AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 352–361 | Cite as

Development of a Brief Substance Use Sensation Seeking Scale: Validation and Prediction of Injection-Related Behaviors

  • Dan Werb
  • Chris Richardson
  • Jane Buxton
  • Jeannie Shoveller
  • Evan Wood
  • Thomas Kerr
Original Paper


Sensation seeking, a personality trait, has been shown to predict engagement in high-risk behaviors. However, little is known regarding the impact of sensation seeking on substance use among street youth. We therefore sought to modify a sensation seeking scale (SSS) for use among this population. Street youth from the Vancouver-based At-Risk Youth Study (n = 226) completed the modified SSS. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis (EFA/CFA) were undertaken to establish the scale’s dimensionality and internal validity. The association between SSS score and injection-related behaviors was tested using generalized estimating equation analysis. EFA results indicated scale unidimensionality. The comparative fit index (CFI) suggested acceptable fit (CFI = 0.914). In multivariate analysis, sensation seeking was independently associated with injection drug use, crystal methamphetamine use, polysubstance use, and binge drug use (all p < 0.05). Our findings provide preliminary support for the use of the modified SSS among street youth.


Injection Crystal methamphetamine Sensation seeking Street youth Injection initiation 



The authors thank the study participants for their contribution to the research, as well as current and past researchers and staff. We would specifically like to thank Deborah Graham, Peter Vann, Caitlin Johnston, Steve Kain, and Calvin Lai for their research and administrative assistance. The study was supported by the US National Institutes of Health (R01DA028532) and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP–102742). Dan Werb is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Trudeau Foundation. Jeannie Shoveller is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. This research was undertaken, in part, thanks to funding from the Canada Research Chairs program through a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Inner City Medicine supporting Evan Wood.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dan Werb
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris Richardson
    • 2
  • Jane Buxton
    • 2
    • 3
  • Jeannie Shoveller
    • 2
  • Evan Wood
    • 1
    • 4
  • Thomas Kerr
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Urban Health Research Initiative, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDSUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.School of Population and Public Health, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.BC Centre for Disease ControlVancouverCanada
  4. 4.Division of AIDS, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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