Horváth, Z., Qirjako, G., Pavlova, D., Taut, D., Vaičiūnas, T., Melkumova, M., Várnai, D., Vieno, A., Demetrovics, Z., Urbán, R., & Németh, A. (2021).

The information capacity of adolescent alcohol consumption indicators along a continuum of severity: A cross-national comparison of sixteen Central and Eastern European countries.

Background. Because there is high variability among European countries in prevalence levels of various alcohol consumption measures, the informational value of adolescent’s alcohol consumption indicators is uncertain. The present study aimed to examine information capacity and measurement invariance of different alcohol consumption indicators in adolescents from countries of the former Soviet (Eastern) Bloc in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Methods. Data were collected in 16 CEE countries, as part of the 2013/2014 wave of the Health Behavior in School-aged Children study. Data from adolescents (age 15) who reported having consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime were analyzed. Four binary items selected for analysis measured the presence or absence of alcohol consumption in the last 30 days, lifetime drunkenness, weekly drinking frequency, and binge drinking on a typical occasion. Multiple group confirmatory factor analysis and item response theory analysis were used to examine the data. Results.  In most of the included countries, alcohol consumption in the last 30 days and lifetime drunkenness were indicative at lower severity levels, while binge drinking and weekly drinking frequency were informative at higher levels of alcohol use severity. A low proportion of the estimated intercepts and factor loadings were noninvariant, which indicated approximate cross-national invariance of these indicators. Conclusions. Adolescent alcohol consumption indicators are informative for different severity levels and enable cross-nationally invariant measurement. However, different indicators suggested the presence of diverging drinking cultures in the CEE regions, with the highest discrimination capacity at the lower and higher ends of the continuum of alcohol use severity.