The validity of the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS) among Australian adolescents

Nicola C. Newton*, Emma L. Barrett, Natalie Castellanos-Ryan, Erin Kelly, Katrina E. Champion, Lexine Stapinski, Patricia J. Conrod, Tim Slade, Natasha Nair, Maree Teesson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


Aims: This study investigated the validity of a brief personality screening measure for substance use in adolescents, the Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS), among Australian adolescents. Design and participants: A total of 527 adolescents (mean age: 13.38. years, SD= 0.43) from seven Australian schools were assessed at two time points 24 months apart. The concurrent and predictive validity of the SURPS was determined using a series of linear and logistic regressions, and was compared to the results in a United Kingdom (UK) sample. SURPS subscale scores for the Australian population were also reported and compared to those in the UK. Findings: Overall, the SURPS subscale scores for Australian adolescents were similar to those for adolescents from the UK. Tests of concurrent and predictive validity in the Australian sample demonstrated that the all four personality profiles - Hopelessness (H), Anxiety Sensitivity (AS), Impulsivity (IMP), and Sensation Seeking (SS) - were related to measures of substance use and other behavioural and emotional characteristics. In addition, all the predicted specific prospective relationships between the personality profiles and particular substance use and other behavioural problems were confirmed except that H was not associated with illicit drug use. Overall, the results were similar between the Australian and UK samples. Conclusions: The SURPS is a valid and useful measure for identifying Australian adolescents at high-risk for substance use and other emotional and behavioural problems. Implications for prevention are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-30
Number of pages8
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • prevention
  • personality
  • substance use
  • adolescence


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