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J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2008 Jul;69(4):496-9.

The factor structure and severity of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms in psychiatric outpatients.

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  • 1Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Box G-S121-4, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.



The goal of the present study was to examine the factor structure and estimated severity of alcohol-use disorder (AUD) symptoms in a sample of treatment-seeking psychiatric outpatients.


Participants (n = 1,027; 51.2% women) met the screening criteria for the lifetime assessment of AUDs according to the Structured Clinical Interview for the DSM-IV (SCID-I/P; First et al., 1995) and as a result completed an assessment of alcohol abuse and dependence symptoms. The average (SD) age of the sample was 36.6 (11.4) years, and 71% of participants met lifetime DSM-IV criteria for an AUD.


Exploratory factor analysis of the tetrachoric correlation matrix of alcohol abuse and dependence criteria revealed that a single factor best accounted for the data in this sample. Results of Rasch model analyses indicated that the severity ordering of the DSM-IV abuse and dependence symptoms was not consistent with the hierarchical structure suggested by the DSM-IV. Instead, abuse items were found to be spread across a full range of the AUD continuum and were not consistently in the lower ranges of severity.


This study extends the literature by examining a treatment-seeking psychiatric outpatient sample and using a semistructured diagnostic interview administered by mental health professionals. Methodological considerations and implications for the conceptualization of AUD are discussed.

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