Measuring public opinion on alcohol policy: A factor analytic study of a US probability sample

William W. Latimer, Eileen M. Harwood, Michael D. Newcomb, Alexander C. Wagenaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Public opinion has been one factor affecting change in policies designed to reduce underage alcohol use. Extant research, however, has been criticized for using single survey items of unknown reliability to define adult attitudes on alcohol policy issues. The present investigation addresses a critical gap in the literature by deriving scales on public attitudes, knowledge, and concerns pertinent to alcohol policies designed to reduce underage drinking using a US probability sample survey of 7021 adults. Five attitudinal scales were derived from exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses addressing policies to: (1) regulate alcohol marketing, (2) regulate alcohol consumption in public places, (3) regulate alcohol distribution, (4) increase alcohol taxes, and (5) regulate youth access. The scales exhibited acceptable psychometric properties and were largely consistent with a rational framework which guided the survey construction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)301-313
Number of pages13
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2003

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Primary support for this study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to the University of Minnesota (Alexander C. Wagenaar, Principal Investigator). Additional support was provided by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Minnesota (William Latimer, Principal Investigator, DA10777, DA00254) and to the University of California, Los Angeles (Michael D. Newcomb, Principal Investigator, DA01070). We thank Chuck Denk of Mathematica, for assistance with survey design and implementation.

Copyright 2008 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adolescence
  • Alcohol
  • Multiple group factor analysis
  • Policy
  • Underage drinking


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