Despite data that suggests 34-72% of treatment seeking individuals report pornography use*, researchers Shane Kraus (UNLV) and Joshua Grubs (BGSU) pointed out the lack of validated screening tools for detecting problematic pornography use for clinicians. They presented psychometrics and development of the Brief Pornography Screener at the 6th International Conference on Behavioral Addictions in Yokohama, Japan. Their paper was then published on ResearchGate.
Kraus and Grubs have developed a 5 item face valid assessment of problematic pornography use. Respondents rate the five statements on a 3 point scale (0-never, 1-sometimes, 2-frequently) for a maximum total score on the instrument of 10.
They report “results from 5 independent samples suggests that BPS is psychometrically sound.” According to the authors, psychometrics reveal a single factor, high internal consistency (Chronbach’s α=0.90), and “evidence of convergent, criterion and discriminant validity.” They also report a clinical cut-off score of 4.
The presentation referenced looked at the incidence of rates of problematic pornography use in veterans vs non-veterans in a U.S. nationally representative cross-sectional sample of 1461 adult pornography users.
Scale items: (4 of the 5 are listed here)(1)Contact me if you would like the scale with specific copyright release.
In the past 6 months have these situations occurred to you:
- You find yourself using sexually explicit material more than you want to.
- You have attempted to “cut back” or stop using sexually explicit material, but were unsuccessful.
- You find it difficult to resist strong urges to use sexually explicit material.
- You find yourself using sexually explicit material to cope with strong emotions (e.g., sadness, anger, loneliness, etc.)
The scale has been used in two research studies that have been published.
Sklenarik, S., Potenza, M.N., Gola, M., Kor, A., Kraus, S.W., & Astur, R.S. (2019). Approach bias for erotic stimuli in heterosexual male college students who use pornography. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 8, 234-241.
Kowalewska, E., Kraus, S.W., Lew-Starowic, M., Gustavsson, K., & Gola, M (2019). Which dimensions of human sexuality are related to compulsive sexual behavior disorder (CSBD)? Study using a Multidimensional Sexuality Questionnaire on a sample of Polish males. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16(8), 1264-1273.
Working inpatient with alcoholics decades ago, I used a brief, face valid alcoholism screening assessment. Because it was face valid, we didn’t rely on it for accurate diagnosis, but it was invaluable in sparking conversation and prompting a deeper look.
Today, the Sexual Addictions Screening Test (SAST) serves a similar purpose. Not sufficient for diagnosis, but it is a great way for clients to flag issues and to discuss with clients where their score falls relative to addicts and non-addicts.
The Brief Pornography Screener holds to potential for filling this gap in working with individuals who present for problematic porn usage. Having a quick way for potential (or active) clients to report on their pornography use and being able to compare their score to an established clinical cut-off score could be valuable.
“James, in answering questions on our intake form about pornography you scored a “7”. That puts your score in a category where most individuals are experiencing some significant distress related to their pornography use. Can you tell me more about this?”
The slides uploaded to ResearchGate suggest Kraus and Grubs used a psychological distress scale and assessed porn frequency in establishing the cut-off score of 4. I will want to review the final article (they report it is under review for publication) before speaking to the validity of score interpretation but assume it will be strong. Stay tuned for updates.
Sample and testing
While Kraus and Grubs mention other samples (see works published using the screener), the sample for this report seems very appropriate for use in the intended population (cross section of individuals from the US who have viewed pornography).
Similarly, the psychometrics appear sound based on what little is reported on the slides provided.
The Brief Pornography Screener appears ready for use in clinical settings where the clinician is looking for just such a tool to provide initial screening and prompt discussion. Additionally, it might be very valuable in psychoeducational ventures to provide the audience a brief screening to assist them in self assessment. Whether you believe in “pornography addiction” or not, the BPS can be a good tool in linking a specific behavior (porn) to distress with a quantifiable number and interpretation.
If you decide to use it, let us know. And watch here for updates.
* Reid, R. C., Carpenter, B. N., Hook, J. N., Garos, S., Manning, J. C., Gilliland, R., . . . Fong, T. (2012). Report of Findings in a DSM‐5 Field Trial for Hypersexual Disorder. <i>The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 9</i>(11), 2868-2877. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2012.02936.x
Kraus, Shane & Grubbs, Joshua. (2019). Brief Pornography Screener: Identifying problematic pornography use in a U.S. sample.
Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335793351_Brief_Pornography_Screener_Identifying_problematic_pornography_use_in_a_US_sample.
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