Measuring problematic sexual behaviour: an item response theory examination of the Bergen–Yale sex addiction scale

Zarate, Daniel ORCID: 0000-0002-1508-8637, Tran, Thong Thai Diep, Rehm, Imogen ORCID: 0000-0002-0053-2272, Prokofieva, Maria ORCID: 0000-0003-1974-3827 and Stavropoulos, Vasileios ORCID: 0000-0001-6964-4662 (2023) Measuring problematic sexual behaviour: an item response theory examination of the Bergen–Yale sex addiction scale. Clinical Psychologist, 27 (3). pp. 328-342. ISSN 1328-4207


Background and aims: Previous research investigated the prevalence and risk factors of problematic sexual behaviour (PSB) using the Bergen–Yale Sex Addiction Scale (BYSAS), among other instruments. However, a dearth of literature employed item response theory (IRT) to assess the BYSAS psychometric properties. The present study adopts an IRT framework to comprehensively examine the measurement aspects (including discrimination and severity) and the prevalence of PSB among a relatively large adult sample. Methods: Participants (N = 968, 64.3% men, Mage = 29.5 years, age range = 18–64 years) completed the BYSAS. Results: CFA determined that the BYSAS is a unidimensional construct. Additionally, IRT analysis showed variability in discrimination, severity, and reliability across BYSAS items, with a raw score exceeding 20, indicating a high risk of PSB. Accordingly, using this raw score 1.8% of the participants were at-risk of PSB. Conclusions: Findings supported the differential use of BYSAS criteria for assessment purposes, while only a minority of participants presented to be at risk of problematic sexual behaviour difficulties.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Clinical Psychologyist. It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/13284207.2023.2221781
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 5201 Applied and developmental psychology
Current > Division/Research > College of Health and Biomedicine
Keywords psychometric investigations, Classical Test Theory, CTT, model of addiction, sexual behaviours, diagnoses, adolescent populations
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