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Validation of the dialectal Arabic version of Barratt's impulsivity scale, the BIS-11

Article type: Published article


SummaryIntroduction Impulsivity is a symptom of several disorders such as personality disorder, bipolar disorder, suicidal behaviour, substance use disorders, schizophrenia… Forensic psychiatry is particularly concerned with impulsivity. It increases the risk of violence among clinical populations and figures in various instruments such as the HCR-20, the VRAG and the PCL-R to assess violence risk. It is one of many dimensions that can lead to aggressive behaviour among psychiatric patients. The Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS), in its 11th version, is a 30-item self-report instrument that helps assessing impulsivity trait among normal and clinical populations. The BIS is the most commonly administered self-assessment of impulsiveness. As of March 2009, there have been 551 citations of the BIS-11 among many publications. The purpose of the present study is to examine the psychometric properties of the Arabic translation of the BIS-11th version in a sample of the general population and to identify an eventual correlation between impulsivity and socio-demographic characteristics. Patients and methods This is a prospective study conducted over a five-month period, from June to October 2010, and including 134 persons from the general population having provided their informed consent. The dialectal Arabic version was carried out by translation from English to dialectal Arabic followed by a back translation to English. Some questions were modified to be understood by a population with low education. After giving their verbal informed consent, the participants filled in the Arabic version of the BIS-11. For the illiterate, responses and quotations were performed by the interviewer. The persons were also asked to fill in socio-demographic data. Cronbach's coefficient was calculated, and then we assessed impulsivity prevalence and a correlation between demographic features and impulsivity scores. For the analyses, the statistical software SPSS 11 was used. Results The sex ratio is 1.02. Most of the interviewed persons were 20 to 49 years old. Around 25.4% of the sample were analphabets, 32.1% had primary education, 29.1% had secondary education and 13.4% were undergraduates. The Cronbach's alpha was respectively 0.66 for attention, 0.72 for motor impulsivity, 0.61 for lack of planning and 0.78 for total impulsivity. Factor analysis identified three factors explaining the total variance of 32.6%. Impulsivity prevalence was 9%. We did not find significant correlation between demographic features and impulsivity scores. Discussion Limits of the study: scale stability over time was not verified. This was due to the difficulty in re-inviting the same persons to fulfil the scale a second time. Because no instrument for assessing exists in Arabic, comparison was not possible between the translated Barratt's scale and the reference. Our sample represents the general population. This choice was justified in order to study an eventual correlation between impulsiveness and socio-demographic characteristics. We must mention difficulties when asking persons with low education to complete the scale, what may have caused a poorer performance of the scale due to difficulties in understanding some questions. Moreover, we had chosen a non-clinical sample. The validation of the scale could be performed in a clinical population. The measure of internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha) fell within an acceptable range (0.61–0.78), suggesting that the Arabic version of the BIS-11 is reliable. Exploratory factor analysis of the current version identified three factors, but these factors differed from those of other translated versions. Conclusion There is growing interest in the impulsivity concept. Forensic psychiatry is particularly concerned by impulsivity. In fact, it is related to psychiatric patients’ violence. Impulsivity also reveals the problem of responsibility assessment in psychiatric expertise and the dangerousness of psychiatric patients. The Arabic version of the BIS-11 has a good apparent and internal consistency. This version could be useful in assessing psychiatric patient's dangerousness.

Full citation

Ellouze F, Ghaffari O, Zouari O, Zouari B, M’rad MF. Validation de la version en arabe dialectal de l’échelle d’impulsivité de Barratt, la BIS-11. L'Encéphale. 2013;39(1):13-8.


Methods Condition Gender Age Country Setting Sample size
healthy Both 20 - 49 Commuinty 134

Number of items

30 items


Measure does not require training

Required time

Less than 5 min

Access measure


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Articles last updated: December 2020