Open Access Open Badges Research

Motivation rulers for smoking cessation: a prospective observational examination of construct and predictive validity

Edwin D Boudreaux1*, Ashley Sullivan2, Beau Abar1, Steven L Bernstein3, Adit A Ginde4 and Carlos A Camargo2

Author Affiliations

1 Departments of Emergency Medicine, Psychiatry, and Quantitative Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, 01655, USA

2 Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, 02114, USA

3 Department of Emergency Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, 06510, USA

4 Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Aurora, CO, 80045, USA

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Addiction Science & Clinical Practice 2012, 7:8  doi:10.1186/1940-0640-7-8

Published: 8 June 2012



Although popular clinically, the psychometric properties of motivation rulers for tobacco cessation are unknown. This study examined the psychometric properties of rulers assessing importance, readiness, and confidence in tobacco cessation.


This observational study of current smokers was conducted at 10 US emergency departments (EDs). Subjects were assessed during their ED visit (baseline) and reassessed two weeks later. We examined intercorrelations between the rulers as well as their construct and predictive validity. Hierarchical multinomial logistic regressions were used to examine the rulers’ predictive ability after controlling for covariables.


We enrolled 375 subjects. The correlations between the three rulers ranged from 0.50 (between Important and Confidence) to 0.70 (between Readiness and Confidence); all were significant (p < 0.001). Individuals in the preparation stage displayed the highest motivation-ruler ratings (all rulers F 2, 363 ≥ 43; p < 0.001). After adjusting for covariables, each of the rulers significantly improved prediction of smoking behavior change. The strength of their predictive ability was on par with that of stage of change.


Our results provide preliminary support for the psychometric soundness of the importance, readiness, and confidence rulers.

Tobacco; Tobacco cessation; Motivation; Stage of change; Reliability; Validity