A clinical instrument to guide brief interventions for adolescents with substance use concerns.

Mary M Ramos
Teddy Warner
Daisy V Rosero
Timothy P Condon


BACKGROUND: Adolescent substance use is an important public health problem in New Mexico and the United States. The New Mexico Department of Health school-based health centers (SBHCs) universally administer a validated screen, the CRAFFT (Car, Relax, Alone, Forget, Friends, Trouble), for adolescent substance use concerns; however, quality assurance efforts revealed that SBHC providers needed more information at the point of screening to initiate brief interventions for students with positive CRAFFT screens. The CHISPA (Cocaine, Heroin, IV drugs, Synthetic pot, Pot, Alcohol) was developed to gather specific information on recent substance use experience to guide brief interventions. This paper describes the development and initial reliability and validity of data obtained using the CHISPA instrument.

METHODS: In 2015, 99 high school-aged SBHC users in Albuquerque, New Mexico, completed the CRAFFT and CHISPA twice over 2 weeks using standard test-retest methods. Using the CHISPA, students reported for the prior 3 months substances used, frequency of use, and signs of addiction or acute danger (adverse events).

RESULTS: Retest reliability for the CRAFFT score was 0.82. CHISPA retest reliabilities were 0.75 for alcohol use; 0.91 for having used any substances; 0.92 for number of substances used; 0.81 for frequency of substance use; and 0.79 for number of adverse events. CRAFFT scores correlated with CHISPA measures of number of substances used at 0.62; with frequency of substance use at 0.58; and with number of adverse events at 0.64.

CONCLUSIONS: CHISPA measures show preliminary evidence of reliability and validity. SBHC providers and other providers in primary care settings who use the CRAFFT screen may benefit from using the CHISPA to define recent substance use experience to guide brief interventions for adolescents with substance use concerns. The CHISPA instrument is currently being tested in electronic form in selected SBHCs in the state of New Mexico.