• Sensation seeking in urban African-American male substance abusers: Modification of the Sensation Seeking Scale

      Malone, Sandra Beth; Allen, Karen, Ph.D., R.N. (1998)
      In light of the strong positive relationship between sensation seeking and substance abuse and the fact that African Americans have historically scored lower than Caucasians on Zuckerman's Sensation Seeking Scale, this study was undertaken to: (a) Explore the sensation seeking concept within a specific population of urban African American males, (b) Modify the Sensation Seeking Scale to make it culturally relevant for urban African Americans, (c) Evaluate the psychometric properties of the modified scale and, (d) Examine the relationship between sensation seeking and selected demographic variables. The study employed a sequential triangulation design of a qualitative research methodology (focus groups) to modify Form V of the Sensation Seeking Scale, followed by a quantitative design to assess the psychometric properties of the modified scale and to examine the demographic variables. The qualitative study consisted of five focus group sessions, comprised of 38 urban African American males. Each session was audiotaped and an abridged transcript of the tapes from each session was prepared. Data analysis and coding occurred according to the interpretive/descriptive method. Modification of the scale occurred after saturation was reached and all focus group data were analyzed. The quantitative study consisted of a convenience sample of 126 urban African American male outpatients enrolled in substance abuse programs at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Sixty-three subjects were randomly assigned Form V and 63 subjects were randomly assigned the modified scale. Psychometric assessment of the modified scale consisted of test-retest reliability, internal consistency reliability, content validity and hypothesis testing construct validity. Data were analyzed using t-tests, ANOVAS and Pearsons Correlations. Scores obtained for the modified sample were significantly higher than scores obtained for the Form V sample, suggesting that the modified scale is a more appropriate measure of sensation seeking in urban African Americans. The overall findings from the psychometric assessment of the scale lent support for the reliability and validity of the Modified Sensation Seeking Scale, with the exception of the Boredom Susceptibility subscale. Additional refinement of the Boredom Susceptibility subscale, further exploration of the concept and more extensive assessment of the Modified Sensation Seeking Scale is warranted. Findings from the study indicate that there was no significant difference in sensation seeking based on education or drug of choice. There was a significant difference in sensation seeking based on polysubstance abuse.