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Psychol Med. 2014 Jan;44(1):143-59. doi: 10.1017/S0033291713000573. Epub 2013 Apr 3.

Towards the characterization and validation of alcohol use disorder subtypes: integrating consumption and symptom data.

Author information

1
Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

There is evidence that measures of alcohol consumption, dependence and abuse are valid indicators of qualitatively different subtypes of alcohol involvement yet also fall along a continuum. The present study attempts to resolve the extent to which variations in alcohol involvement reflect a difference in kind versus a difference in degree.

METHOD:

Data were taken from the 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions. The sample (51% male; 72% white/non-Hispanic) included respondents reporting past 12-month drinking at both waves (wave 1: n = 33644; wave 2: n = 25186). We compared factor mixture models (FMMs), a hybrid of common factor analysis (FA) and latent class analysis (LCA), against FA and LCA models using past 12-month alcohol use disorder (AUD) criteria and five indicators of alcohol consumption reflecting frequency and heaviness of drinking.

RESULTS:

Model comparison revealed that the best-fitting model at wave 1 was a one-factor four-class FMM, with classes primarily varying across dependence and consumption indices. The model was replicated using wave 2 data, and validated against AUD and dependence diagnoses. Class stability from waves 1 to 2 was moderate, with greatest agreement for the infrequent drinking class. Within-class associations in the underlying latent factor also revealed modest agreement over time.

CONCLUSIONS:

There is evidence that alcohol involvement can be considered both categorical and continuous, with responses reduced to four patterns that quantitatively vary along a single dimension. Nosologists may consider hybrid approaches involving groups that vary in pattern of consumption and dependence symptomatology as well as variation of severity within group.

PMID:
23551901
PMCID:
PMC3856175
DOI:
10.1017/S0033291713000573
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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