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Original Research

Problematic Video Game Use Scale: Initial Psychometric Properties With Psychiatrically Hospitalized Adolescents

David R. Topor, PhD; Lance P. Swenson, PhD; Gina M. Liguori, BA; Anthony Spirito, PhD; Elizabeth A. Lowenhaupt, MD; and Jeffrey I. Hunt, MD

Published: December 15, 2011

Article Abstract

Objective: Excessive video game use among youth has been a growing concern in the United States and elsewhere. The aims of this study are to establish validity of a video game measure in a large adolescent inpatient sample, identify clinical factors underlying problem video game use, and identify associations with measures of psychopathology.

Method: Three hundred eighty participants admitted to an adolescent inpatient psychiatric unit between November 2007 and March 2009 were administered a battery of self-report measures, including a questionnaire developed for this study that assessed reinforcers and consequences of past-year video game use (ie, Problematic Video Game Use Scale). Factor analysis was used to identify the underlying structure of behaviors associated with problem video game use.

Results: A factor analysis of the Problematic Video Game Use Scale indicated 2 primary factors. One was associated with engaging in problem behaviors that impaired the adolescent’s functioning as a result of playing video games and one reflected the reinforcing effects of playing video games. Both factors were associated with measures of psychopathology, although associations were generally stronger for impairment in functioning than for reinforcing effects. Both factors were significantly correlated with self-reported daily video game use (P < .001).

Conclusions: Two underlying factors emerged to account for problem video game playing: impairment in functioning and reinforcing effects. Initial evidence of the content validity of the video game measure was established. Findings highlight the importance of assessing video game use among an adolescent population, the factors associated with video game use, and associations with symptoms of psychopathology. Limitations include a common reporter for multiple measures and cross-sectional data that do not allow for causal links to be made.

J Clin Psychiatry 2011;72(12):1611-1615

Submitted: April 4, 2011; accepted August 24, 2011(doi:10.4088/JCP.11m07040).

Corresponding author: David R. Topor, PhD, VA Boston Healthcare System, Harvard Medical School, Department of Psychiatry, 940 Belmont St, Bldg 22-PRRC, Brockton, MA 02301 ( or

Volume: 72

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