Item Banks and Short Forms

Development and Evaluation

The item banks for the Smoking Assessment Toolkit were derived from an initial pool of items drawn from widely used assessments of smoking behavior. After obtaining the initial item pool, we held a series of focus groups and cognitive interviews with current smokers to both ensure the relevance of items and to identify and remove problematic items. We then administered 277 smoking items to a nationally representative sample of 5,384 daily and nondaily adult smokers.

These data provided the basis for a series of psychometric analyses that included evaluations of local dependence, estimation of exploratory multidimensional item response theory models, and confirmatory item bifactor models to establish the basic contents of each bank. Once we established bank contents, we tested for item bias (i.e., differential item functioning), performed concurrent calibrations of the item banks for the daily and nondaily smoker groups using a nonequivalent anchor test design, developed short-form representations of the item banks, and conducted computer adaptive test simulations.

Psychometric Properties

Psychometric evidence strongly supports the utility of the PROMIS Smoking Initiative item bank development process. This toolkit of item banks, short forms (SFs), and CATs provides researchers and clinicians with an array of highly reliable approaches to assessment of key smoking domains. The item banks for daily smokers contain from 12 to 27 items each and produce scores with reliability estimates greater than 0.90 for a wide range of the smoking continuum (see Table 1).

Short-form and CAT administrations provide additional means of achieving high reliability (generally greater than 0.85) using very few items (four to seven items for most banks), with nondaily banks performing similarly. Additional details regarding the development and psychometric properties of these banks can be found in the September 2014 supplemental issue of Nicotine and Tobacco Research. Further reliability and validity evidence is reported in subsequent publications (see publications page).

Table 1 Psychometric Properties of Six Smoking Item Banks for Daily Smokers
  Number of Items Marginal Reliability
Bank full SF CAT* full SF CAT*
Nicotine Dependence 27 8 / 4 4.7 .97 .91/.81 .91
Coping Expectancies of Smoking 15 4 4.3 .96 .85 .91
Emotional and Sensory Expectancies of Smoking 16 6 7.5 .95 .86 .90
Health Expectancies of Smoking 19 6 5.3 .96 .87 .91
Psychosocial Expectancies of Smoking 16 6 6.4 .95 .85 .90
Social Motivations for Smoking 12 4 9.7 .90 .77 .88

*NOTE: CAT item count and reliability are averages based on simulation results with maximum number of administered items set to 10.

Evidence of Validity

Preliminary validity evidence based on analysis of the calibration sample data indicated that the six item banks were differentially associated with smoking and quitting patterns. For example, scores on nicotine dependence, positive emotional and sensory expectancies, coping expectancies, and social motivations were each positively associated with smoking quantity and negatively associated with time to first cigarette of the day. Negative health expectancies and negative psychosocial expectancies scores were positively associated with greater interest in quitting as well as the recency of quit attempts. This pattern of results was replicated in a separate sample (see Table 2).

Table 2 Correlations of Daily Smoking Item Bank Scores with Smoking Measures
  Nicotine Dependence Coping Expectancies Emotional and Sensory Expectancies Health Expectancies Psychosocial Expectancies Social Motivations
Smoking Quantity 0.50 0.32 0.26 0.14 0.12 0.26
Time to First Cigarette of the Day -0.56 -0.33 -0.31 -0.15 -0.13 -0.29
Recency of Last Quit Attempt 0.12 0.06 0.12 -0.20 -0.20 0.04
Interest in Quitting 0.29 0.18 -0.06 0.61 0.59 0.10

NOTE: Except for italicized entries, all correlations are significant at p<.01.

Item Banks and Short Forms

The Smoking Assessment Toolkit item banks and short forms are available for download free of charge.

If you plan to use the Toolkit in your research, please send a brief notification for our records to In addition to your name, affiliation, and contact information, please include a brief description of your intended use of the tools (e.g., population, sample size, study context).

Nicotine Dependence

Assesses cravings or withdrawal that occurs upon brief cessation of smoking, smoking temptations, compulsive use, and tolerance.

Example item: “When I run out of cigarettes, I find it almost unbearable.”

Coping Expectancies

These items assess smokers' tendency to use smoking as a means of coping with negative affect and stress.

Example item: “I rely on smoking to deal with stress.”

Emotional and Sensory Expectancies

Items in this bank include perceptions of improved cognitive abilities, positive affective states, and pleasurable sensorimotor sensations due to smoking.

Example item: “I feel better after smoking a cigarette.”

Health Expectancies

This bank assesses smokers' perceptions of current and long-term health consequences of smoking.

Example item: “Smoking is taking years off my life.”

Psychosocial Expectancies

Items in this bank reflect feelings of social disapproval of smoking, normative values associated with smoking, and negative beliefs about appearance when smoking.

Example item: “People think less of me when they see me smoking.”

Social Motivations

This bank assesses the expected social benefit of smoking and the social cues that induce cigarette craving.

Example item: “Smoking makes me feel better in social situations.”

Companion Items to Assess Smoking and Quitting Behavior

This collection of items was used by the PROMIS Smoking Initiative to assess general smoking behavior and quitting history. Although they are not part of the toolkit, they are a useful means of characterizing smokers. We provide them here mainly for convenience, but also to facilitate more standard assessment of these basic smoking characteristics.

Example item: "During the past 30 days, on how many days did you smoke cigarettes?"