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Social problems from drinking in the Swedish general population: Measurement and reliability
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).
2007 (English)In: Journal of Substance Use, ISSN 1465-9891, Vol. 12, no 2, 103-118 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]


The paper constructs and tests summary measures for different areas of alcohol-related

problems, using general population data. The main emphasis is on the rather unexplored area of

measuring social harm from drinking.


The data analysed is a Swedish national survey on drinking behaviour and related

consequences, collected in 2002 by means of telephone interviews with 5469 adult Swedes. In total,

38 items on both personal and social problems by respondents attributed to their drinking were

subjected to factor analysis in order to identify different problem areas for which summary measures

could be constructed. The psychometric properties of the measures were then tested.


In line with others’ findings, the problem items tended to load on a single factor. After

Varimax rotation, 11 factors were built, only in part fitting a logical conceptual pattern. In the light

both of the dimensions identified in the factor analysis and of face validity, measures of five areas of

alcohol-related problems were constructed: impaired self-control, chronic health problems, public

disorder, interpersonal problems and alcohol-related social problems. The last measure is a summary

scale including both items covered by public disorder and interpersonal problems scales, as well as a

few other items. In terms of internal consistency and test–retest reliability (analysing a smaller sample

from a test–retest pilot study), the five measures showed satisfactory psychometric properties.


In the light of others’ findings, the measures developed here seem to be more consistent

and reliable than a number of other scales. In order to establish comparability, it seems reasonable to

develop and test similar measures across different drinking cultures and, perhaps, modify them


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Informa healthcare , 2007. Vol. 12, no 2, 103-118 p.
Keyword [en]
Dimensionality of harm from drinking, social consequences, summary measures, general
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-25928DOI: 10.1080/14659890601156838OAI: diva2:200814
Part of urn:nbn:se:su:diva-995Available from: 2006-04-28 Created: 2006-04-28 Last updated: 2010-10-21Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Measuring harm from drinking in Sweden: Self-reports from drinkers in the general population
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Measuring harm from drinking in Sweden: Self-reports from drinkers in the general population
2006 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There are several traditions of conceptualizing and measuring harm from drinking. Two main approaches are considered in the introduction – the psychiatric epidemiology and the social survey research traditions. The present thesis adopts the latter, although, as discussed, on the empirical level there is no sharp borderline between the two perspectives, as there is not between personal (i.e. physical and psychological) and social harm from drinking as such. But while methods for studying personal harm are fairly well developed, social harm, i.e. adverse consequences of alcohol that involve social interaction, has received less attention. One of the aims of the thesis has been to explore different dimensions of harm from drinking, identify different harm areas and develop and apply area-specific measures using general population survey data.

Two papers examine psychometric properties of a widely used screening instrument, the AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test). While the first paper is concerned with the validity of the AUDIT, testing it against different criteria, the second paper focuses on the test-retest reliability of the instrument. In the third paper, a number of summary measures of different areas of alcohol-related harm are constructed using factor analysis. These measures are then, in the last paper, applied to estimate prevalence and risk of alcohol-related harm in the Swedish general population. The analyses are based on data from a national survey on drinking problems in Sweden collected in 2001-2002.

It is concluded that the AUDIT screens well for both impaired self-control and social harm from drinking (as well as for high volume drinking), but performs less well when screening for health problems. The test-retest reliability of the AUDIT is relatively high. In the other two papers, constructing new summary measures and applying them to estimate prevalence of harm, it is concluded that, except for being young, no particular sociodemographic risk groups can be identified for different areas of harm from the same level and pattern of drinking. To what extent this reflects reality or is an effect of the methods we use and kind of population we reach in surveys is discussed.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Centrum för socialvetenskaplig alkohol- och drogforskning (SoRAD), 2006. 143 p.
Key words: AUDIT measure, validity, reliability, harm from drinking, social problems, summary measures, predictors of alcohol-related harm, general population surveys.
National Category
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-995 (URN)91-7155-247-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2006-05-22, Högbomsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 8 C, Stockholm, 13:00
Available from: 2006-04-28 Created: 2006-04-28Bibliographically approved

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