Five Methods of Assessing School-Level Daily Use of Cigarettes and Alcohol By Adolescents At Continuation High Schools

Document Type



Community and Global Health (CGU)

Publication Date



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


We explored five methods of estimating school-level daily use of cigarettes and alcohol by adolescents at 20 continuation high schools in southern California. We used Campbell and Fiske's criteria to estimate convergent and discriminant validity of a correlation matrix consist ing of two "traits" (daily use of cigarettes or alcohol) and five "methods" (aggregated student self-report, school personnel prevalence estimate, student prevalence estimate, naturalistic observation of use, and school refuse evidence). Results showed that the different methods varied dramatically in convergent and discriminant validity. These findings, as well as assessment cost considerations, lead us to suggest that refuse analysis is the most economic proxy measure for estimating school-level daily student cigarette smoking and other drug use. Replication studies are needed.

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© 1994 SAGE Publications, Inc.