Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Counseling Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Second Advisor

Duane C. McBride

Third Advisor

Dennis Waite


Purpose. This study examines the construct validity of the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory for Adolescents (SASSI-A) as a substance-abuse screening instrument for dual-diagnosed adolescents in a residential treatment center.

Method. Using archival records of 336 subjects from a long-term residential treatment center, this study applied a two-group comparison method to examine the construct validity of the SASSI-A for screening substance abuse among adolescents in a residential treatment center. Residents were initially clinically assessed by a state certified counselor as either substance abuser/chemically dependent or non-substance abuser/chemically dependent. At this residential treatment center, the clinical assessment included a full review of the resident's clinical and medical file, consult with the resident's family if possible, welfare and/or probation staff, the primary therapist and other residential staff, and an assessment interview. Scale scores and decision rules for the SASSI-A were then compared to the classification by clinical assessment. Underlying structure of the SASSI-A was also examined through principal component analysis.

Results. Independent t tests for the SASSI-A subscales scores showed significant differences in the mean scores between those clinically assessed as substance abuser/chemically dependent and those who were not. Those who were classified as chemically dependent using SASSI-A Decision Rules #1, #2, #3, and #4 were also likely to be clinically assessed as substance abuser/chemically dependent. For this sample, there was insufficient remaining subjects to test the utility of Decision Rules #5 and #6. Classification by clinical assessment and by SASSI-A was unrelated to demographic variables. In comparing the end results of the SASSI-A Decision Rules classification versus the results of those clinically assessed, there was an overall classification agreement of 78.6%. Principle component analysis with varimax rotation resulted in three meaningful underlying factors.

Conclusions. Compared to classification by clinical assessment, the SASSI-A appears to be a valid screening instrument for identifying substance abuse/chemical dependency among adolescents in a residential treatment center.

Subject Area

Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory, Substance abuse--Treatment, Teenagers--Substance use.

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