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Psychol Assess. 2004 Jun;16(2):107-19.

Using latent trait modeling to conceptualize an alcohol problems continuum.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA.


Recent research points toward the viability of conceptualizing alcohol problems as arrayed along a continuum. Nevertheless, modern statistical techniques designed to scale multiple problems along a continuum (latent trait modeling; LTM) have rarely been applied to alcohol problems. This study applies LTM methods to data on 110 problems reported during in-person interviews of 1,348 middle-aged men (mean age=43) from the general population. The results revealed a continuum of severity linking the 110 problems, ranging from heavy and abusive drinking, through tolerance and withdrawal, to serious complications of alcoholism. These results indicate that alcohol problems can be arrayed along a dimension of severity and emphasize the relevance of LTM to informing the conceptualization and assessment of alcohol problems.

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