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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2004 Jul;27(1):1-8.

Selection of a substance use disorder diagnostic instrument by the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network.

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  • 1Treatment Research Institute, Philadelphia, PA, USA.


Several instruments for diagnosing substance use disorders (SUD) have been developed, but to date none has emerged as the standard for community-based clinical studies. To select the most suitable SUD diagnostic instrument for its clinical trials, the National Drug Abuse Treatment Clinical Trials Network (CTN) implemented a procedure in which 36 university-based addiction researchers and 62 community-based addiction treatment providers evaluated and ranked five widely recognized diagnostic instruments: (1) the SUD section of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV (SCID); (2) the SUD section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview, 2nd ed. (CIDI-2); (3) the SUD section of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV Diagnosis (DIS-IV); (4) the Diagnostic Statistical Manual-IV Checklist (DSM-IV Checklist); and (5) the Substance Dependence Severity Scale (SDSS). To assist the evaluation and ranking process, key characteristics of each instrument were presented in tabular and narrative formats. Participants ranked each instrument from 1 (most preferred) to 5 (least preferred). The SCID received the best overall mean score (2.24) followed by the CIDI-2 (2.59), DIS (2.94), DSM Checklist (3.40) and the SDSS (3.83). After discussing the pragmatic and scientific advantages and disadvantages of each instrument, the CTN Steering Committee selected the CIDI-2. The selection of the CIDI-2 standardizes the collection of diagnostic data and provides a common diagnostic tool for practitioners and clinical researchers in the CTN. Implications for practice/research collaboration and initiatives are explored.

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