The Alcohol Use Disorder and Associated Disabilities Interview Schedule-IV (AUDADIS-IV) and AUDADIS-5 are diagnostic interviews used in major epidemiological and other studies of alcohol use disorder (AUD). Much of what we know regarding the prevalence of AUD in the United States is based upon this interview. However, past research and meta-analytic evidence suggest that differential operationalization of the AUD criteria across instruments can lead to differential endorsement of symptoms and resulting AUD diagnosis rates. In particular, studies employing the AUDADIS are observed to have markedly higher endorsement rates of withdrawal than other large epidemiological studies. One explanation for this is that when assessing withdrawal, the AUDADIS combines effects from the morning after drinking with those from the days following, thereby conflating hangover and withdrawal.
This study addresses whether this operationalization confounds rates of endorsement when compared to simpler, less ambiguous hangover or withdrawal stems. To this aim, 497 college student drinkers were randomized into 1 of 3 stem conditions: (i) hangover (n = 164), (ii) withdrawal (n = 167), or (iii) combined AUDADIS-IV (n = 166).
Across conditions, participants were more likely to report the occurrence of each withdrawal symptom in the combined stem condition than in the explicit withdrawal stem condition, but not in the explicit hangover stem condition. Within the combined stem condition, probed symptoms were more likely to be reported as a result of a hangover.
The AUDADIS potentially results in false positives for withdrawal, arguably a pathognomonic symptom of alcoholism and, in turn, likely affects rates of the diagnosis of AUD.