Youth Attitudes toward Substance Use – CTC

The Favorable Attitudes toward ATOD Use scale is part of the Communities That Care (CTC) Youth Survey. This survey is designed to measure adolescent antisocial behaviors such as drug use, delinquency, and school dropout, and the risk and protective factors that increase or decrease the likelihood of these problem behaviors.  The survey measures 16 risk factors and 9 protective factors at the individual, peer, family, school, and community level.

The CTC Youth Survey is the primary tool for needs assessment and monitoring in  Communities That Care (CTC),  a coalition-based prevention system that uses a public health approach to prevent youth problem behaviors.  The survey is administered during Phase 3: Developing a Community Profile (for more information about the Communities That Care operating system, go to

The CTC Youth Survey is part of the Center for Substance Use Prevention (CSAP) Toolkit, which is provided by Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It has a total of 142 items. The survey is typically group-administered in classrooms in one 50-minute session. The scales measuring risk and protective factor in the CTC Youth Survey have been established as reliable and valid measures of risk and protection for boys and girls in grades 6  through 12 across race and ethnic groups. To ensure the validity of data from obtained from the survey, those administering this survey are instructed to use the original scales specified in the CTC Youth Survey Item Construct Dictionary and response options provided in the survey.

For a guide on how to use this tool, go to:



Administration Method
Number of Questions
Creator(s) of Tool
Complete measurement tool reference:
Arthur, M.W., Hawkins, J.D., Pollard, J.A., Catalano, R.F., & Baglioni, A.J., Jr. (2002). Measuring risk and protective factors for substance use, delinquency, and other adolescent problem behaviors: The Communities That Care Youth Survey. Evaluation Review, 26, 575-601. doi:10.1177/019384102237850

Complete measurement tool hyperlink:
Scoring / Benchmarking
Before analyzing the data, code answer options as follows:
0=Very wrong
2=A little bit wrong
3=Not wrong at all

Generally, this survey is summarized by using scale scores. Lower risk factor scale scores and higher protective factors are associated with better behavioral outcomes. To facilitate comparisons with public school students across the U.S., scale scores can converted into percentile scores, ranging from 0 to 100, by referencing them against the Communities That Care® normative database. This bed of normative data, which was compiled by combining the results of selected Communities That Care Youth Survey efforts that were completed in 2000, 2001, and 2002, contains survey responses from over 280,000 students in grades 6 through 12. Scale scores can be weighted on four demographic variables (ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, and urbanicity) so that they generalize to the population of US public school students. Norming and weighting scores requires knowledge of statistics and would most likely need to be completed by an external research firm.

Several companies provide services for scoring, aggregating the data, and generating reports for the school(s) to use for program planning and evaluation (see

For a sample report, go to:

For help interpreting data obtained from the survey, please contact:
Blair Brooke-Weiss
Communities That Care Specialist
Social Development Research Group
University of Washington
9725 Third Ave NE, Suite #401
Seattle WA 98115
Phone: 206.543.5709
Email: [email protected]

Target goals/benchmarks for this indicator in 2010 were set by SAMHSA (FY 2012 Online Performance Appendix: as the following:

•Percent of program participants (age 12-17) who somewhat disapprove or strongly disapprove of substance use = 82.8%
•Percent of program participants (age 12-17) that rate the risk of substance abuse as moderate or great = 87%

These rates may inform the benchmarks you decide to set for your program. When setting performance goals for this outcome, it is important to consider the risk level of your participants. For example, you may wish to set lower benchmarks for this outcome (e.g., 75%) if you are working with high-risk youth who are already engaging in drug use and higher benchmarks if you are working with lower risk youth who have not yet initiated drug use (e.g., 90%).
Background / Quality
This tool is widely used and well-tested. For information on the background on the quality of the tool, refer to the studies listed below.

Arthur, M. W., Briney, J. S., Hawkins, J. D., Abbott, R. D., Brooke-Weiss, B. L., Catalano, R. F. (2007). Measuring risk and protection in communities using the Communities That Care Youth
Survey. Evaluation and Program Planning, 30, 197-211. doi:10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2007.01.009

Arthur, M. W., Hawkins, J. D., Pollard, J. A., Catalano, R. F., & Baglioni, A. J. (2002). Measuring risk and protective factors for substance use, delinquency, and other adolescent problem behaviors: The Communities That Care Youth Survey. Evaluation Review, 26, 575-601. doi:10.1177/019384102237850

Fagan, A.A., Van Horn, M.L., Hawkins, J.D., & Arthur, M.W. (2007). Gender similarities and differences in the association between risk and protective factors and self-reported serious delinquency. Prevention Science, 8, 115-124. doi:10.1007/s11121-006-0062-1

Glaser, R. R., Van Horn, M. L., Arthur, M. W., Hawkins, J. D., & Catalano, R. F. (2005). Measurement properties of the Communities That Care Youth Survey across demographic groups. Journal of Quantitative Criminology, 21, 73-102. doi:10.1007/s10940-004-1788-1
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