Validity of the alcohol purchase task with United States military personnel.


Alcohol use is common among military personnel. However, alcohol use and problems are challenging to measure because military personnel do not have similar levels of confidentiality as civilians and can face sanctions for reporting illegal behavior (e.g., underage drinking) or for drinking during prohibited times (e.g., during basic training). The current study aimed to determine if the use of the alcohol purchase task (APT), which has previously been associated with alcohol use and alcohol-related problems in civilian populations, is a valid measure of alcohol-related risk in the military when asking about alcohol consumption is less feasible. Participants were 26,231 Air Force airmen who completed surveys including questions about sensation seeking, alcohol expectancies, perception of peer drinking, intent to drink, and family history of alcohol misuse, which are known predictors of alcohol use, and the APT, from which demand indices of intensity and Omax were derived. Individuals who were single, male, White, and had a high school diploma/GED had higher intensity and Omax scores, and non-Hispanic individuals had higher intensity scores. Age was negatively correlated with intensity and Omax. Regressions were used to determine if intensity and Omax were associated with known predictors of alcohol use and risk. Intensity and Omax showed significant but small associations with all included predictors of alcohol consumption and alcohol risk. Effect sizes were larger for individuals ages 21+ compared to individuals under 21. Thus, this study provides initial support for the validity of the APT as an index of alcohol-related risk among military personnel. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Publication Title

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology