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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1999 Jan;23(1):144-50.

Alcohol dependence and abuse diagnoses: concurrent validity in a nationally representative sample.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York 10032, USA.


The Alcohol Dependence Syndrome concept has had a widespread influence on the major nosological classification systems, most recently with its operationalization as DSM-IV alcohol dependence. Although many studies have provided evidence of the validity of the Alcohol Dependence Syndrome in clinical samples, little validation work has been conducted in general population samples on DSM-IV alcohol dependence or the distinction of DSM-IV alcohol dependence from DSM-IV alcohol abuse. We therefore examined the cross-sectional validity of DSM-IV alcohol dependence and abuse in 27,616 household residents who participated in a 1992 national survey on alcohol use disorders. Validity was investigated by testing the association of a set of five "criterion" variables, external to the alcohol diagnostic criteria, with dependence and abuse diagnoses. Results indicated that dependence diagnoses were significantly associated with all criterion variables when compared with those with no diagnosis and also when compared with alcohol abuse. This supported the separation of dependence from abuse. Abuse diagnoses were associated with some, but not all, criterion variables when compared with subjects with no diagnosis. This report replicates many aspects of a similar investigation in a community sample of household residents. Implications for the next steps in research are discussed.

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