(PESQ) Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire

by Ken C. Winters, PhD

(PESQ) Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire

by Ken C. Winters, PhD
Benefits Quick and cost-effective, the PESQ allows routine screening of adolescents for substance abuse
Ages 12 to 18 years
Admin time 10 minutes
Scores Unambiguous cutoff scores tell you whether the respondent should be referred for a more complete chemical dependency evaluation
Publish Date 1991
Qualifications Level B required.
About Qualification Levels
Translation Available in Dutch
Published Translations
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About This Product

Picture of (PESQ) Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire

BY KEN C. WINTERS, PHD

The Personal Experience Screening Questionnaire (PESQ) provides a quick, cost-effective way to screen adolescents for substance abuse. In just 10 minutes, this brief, standardized, self-report questionnaire identifies teenagers who should be referred for a complete chemical dependency evaluation.

Developed by the Minnesota Chemical Dependency Adolescent Assessment Project, the PESQ is a brief screener intended to help service providers make appropriate referrals. It is especially useful in schools, juvenile detention centers, medical clinics, and other settings where routine screening rather than in-depth evaluation is the goal.

The questionnaire includes 40 items divided into three sections:

  • Problem Severity
  • Psychosocial Items
  • Drug Use History

The Problem Severity section measures the extent to which the respondent is psychologically and behaviorally involved with chemicals. The Psychosocial Items assess personal and environmental problems often associated with adolescent substance abuse. And the Drug Use History shows age of onset and how often, over the preceding 12 months, the adolescent has used alcohol, marijuana, and hard drugs (psychedelics, cocaine, amphetamines, Quaaludes, barbiturates, tranquilizers, heroin, other narcotics, or inhalants). In addition, two validity scales measure response distortion, specifically tendencies to “fake good” or “fake bad.”

Designed for use with 12- to 18-year-olds, the PESQ can be administered by a paraprofessional in just 10 minutes. Because items are written at a fourth-grade reading level, even adolescents with reading problems generally have no difficulty completing the questionnaire.

Responses are marked directly on the time-saving AutoScore™ Test Form. As they are entered, they are automatically scored. Cutoff scores tell you whether the respondent should be referred for a more complete chemical dependency evaluation.  

PESQ gives schools and the health-care system a cost-effective way to identify and refer teenagers who may be chemically dependent. Brief and easy to administer, it is especially convenient for use with large groups.

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