Background: The Alcohol Urge Questionnaire (AUQ) is a promising multi-item measure of self-reported urges to drink in human laboratory studies; however, its factor structure has not been examined during an acute urge state. This study sought to validate the AUQ's factor structure under neutral conditions and during a cue-elicited urge state in heavy drinkers.
Methods: Participants (248 heavy drinkers; 70% male) completed the AUQ, the Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS), and the Positive and Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) under neutral conditions. A randomly selected subsample (n=61; 74% male) then underwent a multimodal alcohol cue exposure and completed the AUQ and PANAS a second time.
Results: Under neutral conditions, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) replicated the previously reported single-factor structure, on which all items significantly loaded (p<0.001). Alcohol urges, as measured by the AUQ, exhibited significant positive associations with drinks per week and severity of dependence. Following the alcohol cue exposure, participants exhibited a significant increase in urge on the AUQ. Confirmatory factor analysis of the AUQ during the cue-elicited urge state also supported the single factor structure, on which all items significantly loaded (p<0.001). Positive and negative affect were positively associated with urges across the experimental protocol, but at greater magnitudes during an acutely elevated urge state.
Conclusions: These results further validate the use of the AUQ for real-time measurement of alcohol craving in human laboratory research.