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The RT-18: a new screening tool to assess young adult risk-taking behavior

Authors de Haan L, Kuipers E, Kuerten Y, van Laar M, Olivier B, Verster J

Published 12 August 2011 Volume 2011:4 Pages 575—584


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Lydia de Haan1, Esther Kuipers1, Yvanca Kuerten1, Margriet van Laar2, Berend Olivier1, Joris Cornelis Verster1
1Division of Pharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences, Utrecht University; 2Trimbos Institute, Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Abstract: Risk-taking behavior is a major determinant of health and plays a central role in various diseases. Therefore, a brief questionnaire was developed to assess risk taking among young adults with known different levels of risk-taking behavior (social drinkers and recreational drug users). In Study 1, N = 522 university students completed the RT-18 risk taking questionnaire. N = 100 students were retested after 2 to 4 weeks and performed the Cambridge Gambling Task (CGT). Mean RT-18 score was 7.69 and Cronbach's alpha was 0.886. The test-retest reliability was r = 0.94. Significant correlation was found between the RT-18 score and CGT scores of risk taking, bet proportion, and risk adjustment. In Study 2, N = 7834 young adult social drinkers, and recreational drug users, mean RT-18 score was 9.34 and Cronbach's alpha was 0.80. Factor analysis showed that the RT-18 comprises two factors assessing level of risk-taking behavior and risk assessment. Men scored significantly higher than women on the RT-18. Recreational drug users had significantly higher scores when compared to social drinkers. In Study 3 of N = 1000 students, construct validity was confirmed by showing that the RT-18 outcome correlates significantly with scores on the Stimulating-Instrumental Risk Inventory. In conclusion, the RT-18 is a valid and reliable screening tool to differentiate levels of risk-taking behavior. This short scale is quick and practical to administer, imposing minimal demands on participants. The RT-18 is able to differentiate risk taking and risk assessment which can help target appropriate intervention strategies.

Keywords: risk taking, impulsivity, sensation seeking, venturesomeness, novelty seeking

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