The use of the Risky Sex Scale among adolescents receiving treatment services for substance use problems: Factor structure and predictive validity

Jonathan G. Tubman, Sabrina E. Des Rosiers, Seth J. Schwartz, Thomas O'Hare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


This study evaluated the use of the Risky Sex Scale (RSS; T. O'Hare, 2001) among youth in outpatient treatment for substance use problems. An ethnically diverse sample of 394 adolescents (280 males; Mage = 16.33 years, SDage = 1.15) was recruited from 2 treatment sites. The study was guided by two aims. First, a confirmatory factor analysis was conducted on RSS item responses. Findings replicated the factor structure identified in previous studies of undergraduate students cited for campus alcohol violations. Second, structural equation modeling was used to document associations between RSS subscales and self-reported substance use and sexual risk behaviors. The risky sex expectancies subscale was significantly associated with co-occurring alcohol use and sex, alcohol use at last intercourse, and alcohol use during the prior 30 days. The risky sexual behaviors subscale was significantly associated with co-occurring drug use and sex, condom use at last intercourse, and unprotected intercourse during the prior 30 days. The factor structure of the RSS was consistent across age group (12-16 and 16-18 years) and across gender, and the links between the RSS subscales and health risk behaviors varied somewhat by gender but not by age group. These findings suggest that the RSS is an appropriate brief screening tool for predicting health risk behaviors among adolescents in substance abuse treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-365
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 1 2012



  • Adolescent
  • Gender
  • Risky sex expectancies, Sexual risk behavior
  • Screening tool
  • Substance abuse
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Phychiatric Mental Health
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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