Measuring nicotine dependence among youth: a review of available approaches and instruments

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2000 May 1:59 Suppl 1:S23-39. doi: 10.1016/s0376-8716(99)00163-5.


This paper reviews issues and concepts related to the measurement of nicotine dependence among youth. The primary objectives of this review are to: (1) review the measures of nicotine dependence currently being used; and (2) delineate a future research agenda in an attempt to advance the quality of measurement and instrumentation for this important research endeavor. Existing measures of nicotine dependence, including formal diagnostic interviews, related withdrawal assessments, brief self-report measures, and single-item indicators, are described. While formal diagnostic systems have been considered the 'gold standard' for evaluating dependence clinically, their specific limitations related to use for research purposes are outlined. Each broad class of measure is evaluated in terms of its rationale for use, strengths and limitations, and the extent to which it has successfully been applied to adolescent populations. A research agenda follows in the second section of the paper. In this section, the need for identification and inclusion of a standard set of optimal dependence measures, for enhancement of current measures, and for the onset of a new and comprehensive measures development program is outlined.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Behavior, Addictive / prevention & control
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology
  • Child
  • Humans
  • National Institute of Mental Health (U.S.)
  • Nicotine / adverse effects
  • Nicotinic Agonists / adverse effects
  • Psychometrics
  • Research Design
  • Smoking Prevention
  • Smoking* / psychology
  • Substance Withdrawal Syndrome / psychology
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / prevention & control
  • Tobacco Use Disorder / psychology
  • United States


  • Nicotinic Agonists
  • Nicotine