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Comparison of Assessment Tool Constructs

Comparison of Assessment Tool Constructs Free Essay


The current paper aims at selecting two assessment instruments purporting to measure similar constructs and make a comparison of them on the basis of reliability and validity, in order to determine which one has a clearer application of measurement concepts. In addition, the paper will also explore the interpretation of measurement performed by these tools. Further, an assessment will be conducted to determine which tool has a clearer measurement concept. The two assessment tools that have been selected for the current paper are Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-3) and Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST). The two assessment instruments are used to measure the extent of drug abuse in adults and sometimes in adolescents. It is essential in order to start the process of treatment that will be most effective in helping people suffering from substance use disorder. The paper finds that SASSI-3 is the most valid and reliable between the two assessment tools. Further, with regard to the tool with the most clear application measurement concept, SASSI-3 is also found to be better than MAST.

Keywords: SASSI-3, MAST, Validity, Reliability, Constructs of Measurement, Assessment, Substance Abuse Disorder

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Comparison of Assessment Tool Constructs


The rate of different substances abuse among both adults and adolescents has risen significantly over time. It has become a point of concern given its harmful impact on the individuals involved, their families, and the society as a whole. Such effect is caused by the emotional stress and addiction that are caused by dealing with such individuals. For this reason, various instruments and measures have been developed to facilitate the treatment of people having illicit drugs problems. These instruments aid professionals involved in the process of the individuals with drug problems treatment in assessing and diagnosing the various substance disorders that they suffer from in order to ascertain the best course of action to take in treatment. For this assignment, the assessment tools that have been selected are the Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory (SASSI-3) and the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test (MAST). The thesis for the paper is to compare the two measuring instruments on the basis of key measurement constructs of validity and reliability, describe how results are interpreted for each of them, and determine which of the two has clearer application of measurement concepts.

Comparison of the Reliability and Validity of SASSI-3 and MAST

The two tools will be compared on the basis of key test measurement constructs of reliability and validity. However, before proceeding on making the comparison, it is essential to try and understand the two instruments briefly. According to Wood (2008), SASSI-3 is a psychological instrument that has been developed to foster the screening of individuals who suffer from substance abuse disorders and those with a high probability of suffering from it. SASSI-3 may be administered in various ways, including computer administration, audio tape, or paper and pencil. On the other hand, Graham, Parkes, McAuley, and Doi (2012) explain that MAST refers to an instrument of measurement that is designed to assess alcohol abuse. In particular, its questionnaire provides a convenient way of measuring lifetime alcoholism and other alcohol-related problems. A screening test using MAST as an instrument can be administered in a time frame as short as 10 to 15 minutes (Allen & Olson, 2015).

Reliability and Validity of SASSI-3

According to Corcoran and Fischer (2013), estimates of the reliability and criterion validity for SASSI-3 can be understood as follows. Firstly, Corcoran and Fischer (2013) assert that the test-retest stability coefficients for the instrument are in the range of .92 to 1.00 from the results of a number of studies. The alpha coefficient is .93 according to the given study. In addition, it was established that there was a 95 percent concordance existing between SASSI-3 inferences (DeMichele & Payne, 2013). The retest reliability of this instrument in a sample of 40 participants was found to be in the range of .92 to 1.00. Therefore, the inter-rater reliability for SASSI-3 is relatively high. Consequently, its test retest reliability is significantly high. With regard to its internal consistency, it is said to produce relatively reliable results. Another critical aspect of measurement that confirms the level of validity of this instrument is discriminant validity. It has been found that the correlations between SASSI-3 domains are usually quite low. To confirm the reliability and validity of SASSI-3, it is essential to note that the instrument has been found to be less prone to faking. Allen and Olson (2015) reiterate it by asserting that one of the characteristics that sets SASSI-3 apart from other assessment tools is its invulnerability to faking.

Reliability and Validity of MAST

The key test measurement constructs of reliability and validity for MAST reveal that internal consistencies average are in the range of .84 in a number of studies (Graham, Parkes, McAuley, & Doi, 2012). The standard error of measurement for MAST has been found to be at 3.42. The correlation of MAST’s domains is found to be in the range of .13 to .72. It indicates that the given alcohol assessment tool correlates well with other measures. To understand the measurement of validity for MAST better, it is essential to note that the validity for this tool is best viewed by assessing predictive positive values, predictive negative values, sensitivity, and its specificity. Consequently, Laux, Piazza, Salyers, and Roseman (2012) confirm that the positive predictive values for this tool are in the range of .24 and .96, while predictive negative values range .78 and 1.00. On the other hand, the sensitivity for MAST is quite high in the range of 1 to .36 (Richard, 2014). The other issue that has to be note in regard to MAST is that it is not equally valid for each group tested. It is evidenced by the fact women tend to score low compared to men.

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Therefore, in comparing the reliability and validity of MAST and SASSI-3, it is evident that SASSI-3 is more reliable, since its reliability coefficient is higher at 0.92 to 1.00 than MAST’s, which are 0.78 to 1.00 (Sadeghia, Najafib, Rostamia, & Ghorbania, 2010).

Methods of Acquiring Key Measurement Constructs of Reliability and Validity

There are different methods for acquiring the key measurement constructs of reliability and validity. One of such methods is a correlation coefficient. It is a method that is used as an index of reliability. In order to identify the constructs of reliability, four main correlation coefficients are used. Wood (2008) asserts that they include test-retest reliability, internal consistency reliability, equivalent forms reliability, and inter-scorer reliability. Another useful method for acquiring constructs of reliability and validity is through the use of surveys. The responses provided by participants can be assessed to determine their validity and reliability. For the measurement of validity, one measurement method that can be considered is the face validity, which determines the extent to which an assessment tool measures a given construct of interest. Another measurement method is content validity, which ascertains the extent to which a given measure covers given constructs of interest. Sadeghia, Najafib, Rostamia, and Ghorbania (2010) indicate that criterion validity is another measure, which determines to what extent the score received correlates to other variables expected to be correlated with. In the continued discussion on the methods of measuring validity and reliability, another relevant method that can be used is the receiver operating characteristic (ROC). It is used to demonstrate the true positive rate and false rate for a specific separation of scores distribution. A final method of measurement that can be identified is the Random Answer Pattern (RAP) (Richard, 2014). It is a measurement method for validity that assesses whether answers are given randomly.

Interpretation of Results

For the assessment tool of SASSI-3, the interpretation of results is as follows. At the first place, scores for the assessment tool are interpreted through making reference to a decision rule. This decision rule stipulates the cutoffs for each scale that is used in the assessment instrument in a clear manner. Therefore, Richard (2014) states that the exceeding of any particular rule leads to an inference made in regard to a significantly high probability of a person suffering from a substance dependence disorder. On the other hand, an inference of low probability is only made in the event of scores being found to be below the determined cutoff of all rules. To understand the results better, the scores may be plotted on a profile graph. It is also possible to determine individual subscale scores, although they are mostly perceived as hypotheses and ideas for assessment.

On the other hand, results of the assessment tool of MAST can be interpreted in the following way. The scores of the assessment tool are interpreted in a form of cutoff points. For instance, a score of 3 or less is considered to be nonalcoholic. However, a score indicating 4 demonstrates the possibility of alcoholism. Finally, when a score of 5 is recorded, it is an indicator of an alcoholic. It is significant to note that a recommendation was later made to increase the level of the cutoff points. It has led to the current interpretation where someone is thought as being alcoholic at a score of 7 and not the previous 5 (Laux, Piazza, Salyers, & Roseman, 2012). To illustrate this new scoring system, 0-4 indicated that a person was not alcohol dependent, 5-6 showed that they might be alcohol dependent, while 7 or more demonstrated that the person was highly alcohol dependent (Graham, Parkes, McAuley, & Doi, 2012).

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Assessment Tool with Clearer Application of Measurement Concepts

Based on the review of literature, the assessment tool which has a clearer application of measurement concepts is SASSI-3. It is supported by the following reasons. Firstly, SASSI-3 is significantly effective in identifying substance use disorders. Sadeghia, Najafib, Rostamia, and Ghorbania (2010) claim that SASSI-3 contains a large number of true of false items that are intended to increase the accuracy of the results. Another reason why this tool has a clearer application of measurement of concepts is that it has the ability to identify malingerers. It means that the tool can show the people who are feigning or not feigning substance use disorder. Thirdly, this assessment tool is clearer in the application of measurement concepts due to its ability to identify the dependence on a drug and also illustrate recovery when it is adminstred for two different occasions. Fourthly, DeMichele and Payne (2013) are of the view that SASSI-3 has a clearer application in the measurement of concepts as its scores have a comparable psychometric properties compared to scores from other alcoholic assessment tools. In the current paper, the other alcoholic assessment tool under consideration is MAST.

MAST is found to have a less clear application of concepts measurement. One of the reasons supporting it is that MAST has ambiguous wording. It means that it tends to elevate the scores, especially in terms of a client’s immediate family rather than in regard to their drinking behavior. Secondly, the homogeneity of MAST, caused by the frequency with which certain items are usually endorsed, tends to lead to the instrument discrimination of the clients. Thirdly, Allen and Olson (2015) confirm that the instrument can be seen as the one that lacks clear application due to the fact that the instrument identifies only those people who already believe that they have alcohol-related problems. Finally, MAST can be perceived as having a less clear application of measurement of concepts as a result of the fact that it is highly sensitive to demographic variables. It results in the fact that the given tool measures different concepts in men and women, lowering its usefulness.


In conclusion, early detection and intervention of substance abuse disorders is critical for treatment of individuals suffering from the condition. It is caused by the fact that such early intervention and detection makes it easy for professionals to assess the best course of action to take with regard to treatment. The substance assessment instruments of SASSI-3 and MAST are some of the most commonly used in terms of assisting professionals in identifying individuals with the problems of substance abuse. A comparison of the given instruments using the constructs of validity and reliability has been essential in determining the instrument with a clearer application of measurement concepts. It is significant in ensuring that only the best tool is used to effectively identify substance problems. Finally, the current paper identifies that SASSI-3 is the best instrument for identifying the rate of substances abuse among individuals.

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