Development and initial validation of the alcohol-induced blackout measure

Mary Beth Miller, Angelo M. DiBello, Jennifer E. Merrill, Kate B. Carey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Blackouts are common among young adults and predict alcohol-related harm. However, existing measures do not capture the range of alcohol-induced memory impairment involved in blackout experiences and do not differentiate between fragmentary and en bloc blackouts. This study aimed to develop and validate a brief, reliable measure of alcohol-induced blackouts among young adults. Methods: College students reporting alcohol-induced memory impairment in the past year were recruited via Qualtrics to participate in an online survey (N = 350, 56% female). A subsample (n = 109, 67% female) completed a one-month follow-up. Principal component analysis was used to determine the structure of the Alcohol-Induced Blackout Measure (ABOM), which was designed to reflect two components (fragmentary and en bloc blackouts). The reliability and validity of the total ABOM score was assessed. Results: The final five items fit in a two-component scale structure; however, a single principal component accounted for 73% of variance in blackout items, all of which demonstrated high component loadings and communalities. The total blackout score demonstrated strong internal consistency, test-retest reliability, and convergent and incremental validity. ABOM scores predicted alcohol-related consequences at baseline and one-month follow-up. Conclusions: The ABOM is a brief and reliable, self-report measure that quantifies the frequency of a range of blackout experiences in the past 30 days. Accounting for this range of experiences improved predictive validity over single-item blackout measures. Blackout frequency is a strong, unique predictor of alcohol-related problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106079
JournalAddictive Behaviors
StatePublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


  • Alcohol
  • Amnesia
  • College students
  • Drinking
  • Young adults


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