Using biological samples for youth ATOD survey validation

Ruth A. Gassman*, Jon Agley, Alyce D. Fly, Jonathon J. Beckmeyer, Ka He, M. Aaron Sayegh, David Tidd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Objective: To identify the conditions under which (1) youth would prefer to participate and (2) parents would allow their child to participate in the collection of biological samples for the purposes of validating a self-report alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) survey. Design: Focus groups were held with youth in grades six through 12 and parents of youth entering those grades in the pending academic year. Setting: This study was conducted in Monroe County, Indiana, USA.Method: Six focus groups were held with a total of 23 youth and eight parents in June and July of 2014. Participants were recruited using a tiered convenience sample. All utterances were transcribed verbatim in real time. Content was entered into the DeDoose software package for mixed methods analyses. Results: Significantly more youth respondents would assent to toenail and saliva collection than to urine or venous blood collection. Collection of the latter bio-specimens was perceived to be uncomfortable or was associated with punishment. Parents and youth suggested several ways to lessen concerns, such as adding more participant autonomy to procedures. Conclusion: Input from various stakeholders is important to the implementation of an ATOD bio-validation study in schools to address prevailing concerns and promote participation. Decisions about study procedures should consider the views/suggestions of students, parents, and school personnel, in conjunction with requirements to retain methodological rigor and purpose of the study. The results indicate an inherent tension between a researchers ability to simultaneously accommodate requests and adhere to desired methodological precision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-185
Number of pages16
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - 3 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Bio-validation study
  • focus groups
  • school ATOD survey
  • stakeholders
  • students and parents


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