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Sensation seeking predicts established smoking and binge drinking in adolescents

Statistics from



Can sensation seeking be used to predict binge drinking and established smoking among adolescents and target adolescents for substance use interventions?


6522 adolescents aged 10–14 years at baseline, contacted by random digit dial telephone survey. Comparing the age, sex and census region of the participants, and income groupings of their parents with the US 2000 Census data confirmed that the participants were a representative sample. Ethnicity was 62% white, 18.2% Hispanic and 13.6% black.


Telephone survey, USA; recruitment June to October 2003.


Sensation seeking was measured using a four-item scale: thrill seeking, adventure seeking, boredom susceptibility and intensity seeking. Scores for individual items ranged from one to four and were summed across items (total scores 4–16). Receiver operating characteristics (ROC) curves were used to analyse effectiveness of sensation seeking as a predictor of binge drinking and established smoking.

Diagnostic standard

Participant report of binge drinking or established smoking at 24 months. Participants were surveyed three times at 8-month intervals. If 24-month data was not available, data from the 16- or 8-month …

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  • Sources of funding National Institutes of Health and the American Legacy Foundation.


  • Competing interests None.

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