Structural-Equation Models of Current Drug Use: Are Appropriate Models so Simple(x)?

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences | Substance Abuse and Addiction


The simplex and common-factor models of drug use were compared using maximum-likelihood estimation of latent variable structural models in two samples: a sample of 226 high school students, using ratio-scale measures of current drug use, and a sample of 310 industrial workers and 811 college students, using ordinal-scale measures of current drug use. Latent variables of alcohol, marijuana, enhancer hard drugs, and dampener hard drugs were specified in a series of structural models. Contrary to previous findings with cumulative drug-use data, the common-factor model provided a more acceptable representation of the observed current-use data than did the simplex model in both samples. In addition, the similarity of results across both of these samples supports recent contentions by Huba and Bentler (1982) that quantitatively measured variables are not necessarily superior to qualitative, ordinal indicators in latent variable models of drug use.

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© 1987 American Psychological Association