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Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health

CBHSQ Methodology Report


Author Information and Affiliations

Structured Abstract


The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) measurement of substance use disorders (SUD) and mental health issues are based on criteria provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which was revised from DSM- IV to DSM-5 in 2013. The purpose of this report is twofold: (1) to describe the changes in diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV to DSM-5, and (2) to evaluate the potential impact of the changes on NSDUH estimates using the best available evidence.


Using 2002 to 2012 NSDUH data, this analysis reviewed the contribution of the individual items to the overall estimation of SUD. The report also compared the current DSM criteria for identifying mental disorders to criteria used in the Mental Health Surveillance Study (MHSS) clinical interview because the MHSS is the foundation for the NSDUH estimates of any mental illness (AMI) and serious mental illness (SMI).


Evaluation of criteria changes for SUD indicates that current DSM-IV–based NSDUH estimates may underestimate DSM-5 diagnosed SUDs, depending on the substance being examined. The prevalence of single-item endorsement for SUDs indicates that alcohol, hallucinogens, and prescription pain relievers have the highest risk for misclassification of SUD resulting from unassessed criteria (i.e., substance craving). The DSM-IV–based MHSS criteria may provide an underestimate of DSM-5 disorders, which could lead to a higher rate of false negatives in the AMI and SMI algorithms used in NSDUH. The diagnostic changes from DSM-IV to DSM-5 for major depressive episode (MDE) are anticipated to have a minimal effect on NSDUH’s MDE prevalence rates for the general population.


The NSDUH estimates of SUD, AMI, and SMI remain consistent with DSM-IV criteria and, to varying degrees, would need revision to be consistent with DSM-5 criteria; however, the NSDUH questions regarding MDE may be sufficient for calculating MDE under both DSM-IV and DSM-5.


This report was prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) under Contract No. HHSS283201000003C with SAMHSA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).


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This publication may be downloaded from http://www.oas.samhsa.gov. Hard copies may be obtained from http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/copies.cfm. Or please call SAMHSA's Health Information Network at 1-877-SAMHSA-7 (1-877-726-4727) (English and Español).

Suggested Citation

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2016). Impact of the DSM-IV to DSM-5 Changes on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. CBHSQ Methodology Report. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD.

The CBHSQ Methodology Report is prepared by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that leads public health efforts to advance the behavioral health of the nation. SAMHSA's mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America's communities.

RTI Project No. 0212800.

Prepared by RTI International, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

RTI International is a registered trademark and a trade name of Research Triangle Institute.

Copyright Notice

All material appearing in this report is in the public domain and may be reproduced or copied without permission from SAMHSA. Citation of the source is appreciated. However, this publication may not be reproduced or distributed for a fee without the specific, written authorization of the Office of Communications, SAMHSA, HHS.

Bookshelf ID: NBK519697PMID: 30199183


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