Measuring cognitive and affective constructs in the context of an acute health event

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Emergency Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Health Behavior; Smoking Cessation; Psychometrics; Cardiovascular Diseases; Acute Disease


Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Emergency Medicine


The latest recommendations for building dynamic health behavior theories emphasize that cognitions, emotions, and behaviors - and the nature of their inter-relationships - can change over time. This paper describes the development and psychometric validation of four scales created to measure smoking-related causal attributions, perceived illness severity, event-related emotions, and intention to quit smoking among patients experiencing acute cardiac symptoms. After completing qualitative work with a sample of 50 cardiac patients, we administered the scales to 300 patients presenting to the emergency department for cardiac-related symptoms. Factor analyses, alpha coefficients, ANOVAs, and Pearson correlation coefficients were used to establish the scales' reliability and validity. Factor analyses revealed a stable factor structures for each of the four constructs. The scales were internally consistent, with the majority having an alpha of >0.80 (range: 0.57-0.89). Mean differences in ratings of the perceived illness severity and event-related emotions were noted across the three time anchors. Significant increases in intention to quit at the time of enrollment, compared to retrospective ratings of intention to quit before the event, provide preliminary support for the sensitivity of this measure to the motivating impact of the event. Finally, smoking-related causal attributions, perceived illness severity, and event-related emotions correlated in the expected directions with intention to quit smoking, providing preliminary support for construct validity.

DOI of Published Version



Psychol Health Med. 2012 Sep 13. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychology, health and medicine

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID