The Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana Scale: Further Examination Using Item Response Theory

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Abstract

Given recent state legislation legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes and majority popular opinion favoring these laws, we developed the Protective Behavioral Strategies for Marijuana scale (PBSM) to identify strategies that may mitigate the harms related to marijuana use among those young people who choose to use the drug. In the current study, we expand on the initial exploratory study of the PBSM to further validate the measure with a large and geographically diverse sample (N = 2,117; 60% women, 30% non-White) of college students from 11 different universities across the United States. We sought to develop a psychometrically sound item bank for the PBSM and to create a short assessment form that minimizes respondent burden and time. Quantitative item analyses, including exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses with item response theory (IRT) and evaluation of differential item functioning (DIF), revealed an item bank of 36 items that was examined for unidimensionality and good content coverage, as well as a short form of 17 items that is free of bias in terms of gender (men vs. women), race (White vs. non-White), ethnicity (Hispanic vs. non-Hispanic), and recreational marijuana use legal status (state recreational marijuana was legal for 25.5% of participants). We also provide a scoring table for easy transformation from sum scores to IRT scale scores. The PBSM item bank and short form associated strongly and negatively with past month marijuana use and consequences. The measure may be useful to researchers and clinicians conducting intervention and prevention programs with young adults.

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