1 Institute for Social Sciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland2 Institute of Psychology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland3 Alcohol Treatment Centre, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland4 French Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFDT), Saint-Denis La Plaine, France5 Centre for Excessive Gambling, Community Psychiatry Department, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland6 Groupe de recherché sur la santé des adolescents, Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne, Switzerland7 Addiction Switzerland, Lausanne, Switzerland8 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada9 University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
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Background and aimsEvidence-based and reliable measures of addictive disorders are needed in general population-based assessments. One study suggested that heavy use over time (UOT) should be used instead of self-reported addiction scales (AS). This study compared UOT and AS regarding video gaming and internet use empirically, using associations with comorbid factors.DesignCross-sectional data from the 2011 French Survey on Health and Consumption on Call-up and Preparation for Defence-Day (ESCAPAD), cross-sectional data from the 2012 Swiss email@example.com study and two waves of longitudinal data (2010–13) of the Swiss Longitudinal Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF).SettingThree representative samples from the general population of French and Swiss adolescents and young Swiss men, aged approximately 17, 14 and 20 years, respectively.ParticipantsESCAPAD: n =22 945 (47.4% men); firstname.lastname@example.org: n =3049 (50% men); C-SURF: n = 4813 (baseline + follow-up, 100% men).MeasurementsWe assessed video gaming/internet UOT ESCAPAD and email@example.com: number of hours spent online per week, C-SURF: latent score of time spent gaming/using internet] and AS (ESCAPAD: Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire, firstname.lastname@example.org: Internet Addiction Test, C-SURF: Gaming AS). Comorbidities were assessed with health outcomes (ESCAPAD: physical health evaluation with a single item, suicidal thoughts, and appointment with a psychiatrist; email@example.com: WHO-5 and somatic health problems; C-SURF: Short Form 12 (SF-12 Health Survey) and Major Depression Inventory (MDI).FindingsUOT and AS were correlated moderately (ESCAPAD: r = 0.40, firstname.lastname@example.org: r = 0.53 and C-SURF: r = 0.51). Associations of AS with comorbidity factors were higher than those of UOT in cross-sectional (AS: .005 ≤ |b| ≤ 2.500, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 1.000) and longitudinal analyses (AS: 0.093 ≤ |b| ≤ 1.079, UOT: 0.020 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.329). The results were similar across gender in ESCAPAD and email@example.com (men: AS: 0.006 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.211, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.061; women: AS: 0.004 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.155, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.094).ConclusionsThe measurement of heavy use over time captures part of addictive video gaming/internet use without overlapping to a large extent with the results of measuring by self-reported addiction scales (AS). Measuring addictive video gaming/internet use via self-reported addiction scales relates more strongly to comorbidity factors than heavy use over time.