R.C. Engs, and D. J. Hanson. The Student Alcohol Questionnaire: An Updated Reliability of the Drinking Patterns, Problems, Knowledge and Attitude Subscales. Psychological Reports,74, 1994: 12-14.

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The Student Alcohol Questionnaire (SAQ) was developed by the first author during the 1973-1974 academic year (Engs, 1975). Besides demographic information, it contains subscales concerned with drinking patterns (Quantity/Frequency), problems related to alcohol, and alcohol knowledge. As part of its development the instrument was subjected to face validity by a panel of experts and by college students. Various reliability analyses including test-retest and internal reliability procedures were performed. Both the test-retest reliability and the Kuder-Richardson reliability were .79 for the behavior and for the knowledge subscales (Engs, 1977, 1978).

The Alcohol Attitude Scale developed by the second author (Hanson, 1972) was added to this instrument when the two authors began their collaborative national longitudinal study of college student drinking patterns in 1981.

Since its development almost 20 years ago, the Student Alcohol Questionnaire has been used by numerous researchers who have reported their results in a variety of journals. Some recent examples include Hong and Isralowitz (1989), Maney (1990), Engs, Slawinska, and Hanson (1991), Hughes and Dodder (1992), Carlucci, Genova, Rubackin, Rubackin, and Kayson (1993), Flynn and Brown (1991), Gross (1993), Haworth-Hoeppner, Globetti, Stem, and Morasco (1993), and Engs and Hanson (1994).

The purpose of this report is to present updated estimates of reliability for the various scales of the Student Alcohol Questionnaire


All colleges initially sampled for the longitudinal study of college students' drinking begun in 1981 were asked to participate in the 1990-1991 data collection. These colleges were selected to be representative of U.S. colleges in terms of enrollment, racial composition, institution control or sponsorship, and community size. Whenever attrition of a college has occurred over the years, an institution from the same state, matched on the basis of the above characteristics, has been substituted. The total 1990-1991 sample of 6,534 students attending 104 different colleges and universities was tested in this study of reliability.

At each institution sociology or health and physical education instructors, who teach survey-type classes with a high probability of containing students from every academic major and class year, were asked to administer the questionnaire to no more than 75 students in the classroom. The proportion of incomplete or otherwise unusable questionnaires was less than two percent.


1. This study was supported by funds from Indiana University, Bloomington and the State University of New York College at Potsdam. Send requests to use the SAQ and its behavior and knowledge scales to Ruth C. Engs. Send requests to use the attitude scale to David J Hanson.


The demographic characteristics of the students in this sample approximate those of the universe of baccalaureate college students in the USA (Statistical Abstract, 1991) except for a slightly higher proportion of female students (60%) in our sample compared to women attending colleges in the USA (58%).

Each of the four subscales was subjected to the Spearman-Brown split-half technique for internal reliability. In addition, a measure of homogeneity using the Cronbach alpha was used. An item analysis required each question in a subscale be correlated with the total score of that subscale using the Pearson correlation. For all statistical procedures, the SPSS programs using the Indiana University VAX computer cluster were applied.


The six items to asses the quantity or frequency index of drinking beer, wine, and spirits were subjected to the various procedures described above. The equal-length Spearman-Brown test gave a reliability coefficient of .84; the Cronbach alpha was .86. The reliabilities of the individual items ranged from .50 to .73 for this subscale.

The Problems Resulting from Drinking subscale includes such items as "driven a car while drinking," "missed a class because of hangover," and "damaged property because of drinking." The equal-length Spearman-Brown statistics for these 18 questions yielded a reliability coefficient of .89; Cronbach alpha was .92. From the item analysis reliabilities ranged from .54 to .75.

There are 36 "true-false" items on Knowledge of Alcohol, including such topics as "alcoholic beverages do not provide weight-increasing calories," "a person cannot become an alcoholic by just drinking beer," and "beer usually contains from 2-12% alcohol by volume." The Spearman-Brown formulae gave a reliability coefficient of .85. Cronbach alpha was .86, and the items' Pearson reliability coefficients ranged from .20 to .51.

There are 11 items in the Attitudes Toward Drinking subscale. Examples of questions include "Would you drink alcohol if there were no social pressure to do so?" and "Would your father approve of your drinking habits?" The unequal-length Spearman-Brown gave a reliability coefficient of .27, the Cronbach alpha was .55, and the item analysis yielded Pearson reliability coefficients from .10 to .44.

It was concluded that the Student Alcohol Questionnaire is still a reliable instrument for measuring college students' drinking patterns, problems related to drinking, knowledge of alcohol, and attitudes towards alcohol.


CARLUCCI, K., GENOVA, J., RUBACKIN, F., RUBACKIN, R., & KAYSON, W.A. Effects of sex, religion, and amount of alcohol consumption on self-reported drinking-related problem behaviors. Psychological Reports, 1993, 72, 983-987.

ENGS, R.C. The Student Alcohol Questionnaire. Bloomington, IN: Department of Health and Safety Education, Indiana University, 1975.

ENGS, R.C. Drinking patterns and drinking problems of college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 1977, 38, 2144-2156.

ENGS, R.C. College students' knowledge of alcohol and drinking. Journal of the American College Health Association, 1978, 26, 189-193.

ENGS, R.C. & HANSON, D.J. Boozing and brawling on the campus: a national study of violent problems associated with drinking over the past decade. The Journal of Criminal Justice, 1994, 22(2):171-180.

ENGS, R.C., SLAWINSKA, J.B., & HANSON, D.J. The drinking patterns of American and Polish university students: a cross-national study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 1991, 27, 167-175.

FLYNN, C.A., & BROWN, W.E. The effects of a mandatory alcohol education program on college student problem drinkers. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, 1991, 37, 15-24.

GROSS. W.C. Gender and age differences in college students' alcohol consumption. Psychological Reports, 1993, 72, 211-216.

HANSON, D.J. Alcohol norms and deviant drinking behavior. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Syracuse University, Syracuse, NY, 1972.


HAWORTH-HOEPPNER, S., GLOBETTI, G., STEM, J., & MORASCO, F. The quantity and frequency of drinking among undergraduates at a southern university. International Journal of the Addictions, 1993, 24, 829-857.

HONG, O.T., & ISRALOWITZ, R. Cross-cultural study of alcohol behaviour among Singapore college students. British Journal of Addiction, 1989, 84, 319-321.

HUGHES, S.P., & DODDER, R.A. Changing the minimum drinking age: results of a longitudinal study. Journal of Studies of Alcohol, 1992, 53, 568-575.

MANEY, D.W. Predicting university students' use of alcoholic beverages. Journal of College Student Development, 1990, 31, 23-32.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE. Statistical abstract of the U.S., national data book. Washington, DC: Bureau of Statistics, 1991. Pp. 171-172.

Accepted November 11, 1993.


Please note that the copy of the SAQ found on this website, is the version which contains behaviors and knowledge questions only. If you wish a copy, which includes Hanson's attitude questions, please contact him by going through "links" on my homepage or email me

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