The reasons for heavy drinking questionnaire: Factor structure and validity in alcohol-dependent adults involved in clinical trials

Zachary Adams, Joseph P. Schacht, Patrick Randall, Raymond F. Anton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Objective: People consume alcohol at problematic levels for many reasons. These different motivational pathways may have different biological underpinnings. Valid, brief measures that discriminate individuals’ reasons for drinking could facilitate inquiry into whether varied drinking motivations account for differential response to pharmacotherapies for alcohol use disorders. The current study evaluated the factor structure and predictive validity of a brief measure of alcohol use motivations developed for use in randomized clinical trials, the Reasons for Heavy Drinking Questionnaire (RHDQ). Method: The RHDQ was administered before treatment to 265 participants (70% male) with alcohol dependence according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, in three pharmacotherapy randomized clinical trials. Principal components analysis was used in half the sample to determine the RHDQ factor structure. This structure was verified with confirmatory factor analysis in the second half of the sample. The factors derived from this analysis were evaluated with respect to alcohol dependence severity indices. Results: A two-factor solution was identified. Factors were interpreted as Reinforcement and Normalizing. Reinforcement scores were weakly to moderately associated with severity, whereas normalizing scores were moderately to strongly associated with severity. In all cases in which significant associations between RHDQ scores and severity indices were observed, the relationship was significantly stronger for normalizing than for reinforcing. Conclusions: The RHDQ is a promising brief assessment of motivations for heavy alcohol use, particularly in the context of randomized clinical trials. Additional research should address factor structure stability in non–treatment-seeking individuals and the RHDQ’s utility in detecting and accounting for changes in drinking behavior, including in response to intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-361
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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