Constructing indexes which measure factors that may predict smoking initiation is essential for planning prevention programs. Our aim was to examine the criterion-related construct validity of brief psychological indexes of attitude, social influence and self-efficacy to be used in future studies for predicting smoking initiation in adolescents.
Five indexes were evaluated using cross-sectional data on 4819 adolescents age 13 in a random sample of schools in six Danish counties. Item analyses were performed with the graphical log-linear Rasch model, a modification of the Rasch model that allows for differential item functioning and positive local dependence.
The three indexes social influence-norms, social influence-pressure and attitude showed acceptable deviations from the Rasch model, while the two indexes self-efficacy and social influence-behavior were invalidated by negative local dependence.
Of the five tested indexes, three (social influence-norms, social influence-pressure and attitude) showed acceptable criterion-related construct validity and may be considered unbiased representations of the theory-based factors if statistical analyses are appropriately adjusted. The results of this population-based study show that the graphical log-linear Rasch model is useful for evaluating health-related behavior indexes and identifying problems, which can be dealt with when using the indexes in future studies.