Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Prevalence of DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: United States, 1992

Academic journal article Alcohol Health & Research World

Prevalence of DSM-IV Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: United States, 1992

Article excerpt

This Epidemiologic Bulletin presents prevalence and population estimates of alcohol abuse and dependence in the United States for the year 1992. The definitions for these alcohol-related disorders were based on the most recent criteria from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association [APA] 1994). Prevalence defines the weighted percentage of respondents classified with a DSM-IV diagnosis, and population estimate refers to the number of people in the United States receiving a DSM-IV diagnosis of alcohol abuse, alcohol dependence, or both. One-year prevalence estimates were derived from self-reports of symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence on the 1992 National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Survey (NLAES). The figures presented in this bulletin are the first estimates of DSM-IV alcohol abuse and dependence to be reported at the national level.


Prevalence and population estimates of alcohol abuse and dependence were based on the 1992 NLAES, a nationwide household survey sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Field work for the study was conducted by the Bureau of the Census. For the NLAES, direct face-to-face interviews were conducted with 42,862 respondents, 18 years of age and older, in the contiguous United Sates and the District of Columbia. The household-response rate for the NLAES was 91.9 percent, and the person-response rate was 97.4 percent.

The NLAES featured a complex multistage design (Massey et al. 1989). Primary sampling units (PSU's)(1) were stratified according to sociodemographic criteria and were selected with probability proportional to size. Approximately 2,000 PSU's were in the 1992 NLAES sample, 52 of which were self-representing--that is, selected with certainty. Within PSU's, geographically defined secondary sampling units, referred to as segments, were selected systematically for each sample. Oversampling of the black population was accomplished at this stage of sample selection. The decision to oversample the black population was based on the higher observed rates of alcohol-related disease (i.e., liver cirrhosis) in this group.

Segments then were divided into clusters of approximately four to eight housing units, and all occupied housing units were included in the NLAES. Within each household. one randomly selected respondent, 18 years of age of older, was selected to participate in the survey. Oversampling of young adults 18-29 years of age, was accomplished at this stage of the sample selection to include a greater representation of this heavy drinking population subgroup. This subgroup of young adults was sampled at a ratio of 2.25 percent to 1.00.

Because of the complex survey design of the NLAES, variance estimation procedures that assume a simple random sample cannot be employed. Research has shown that clustering and stratification of the NLAES sample may result in standard errors much larger than those that would be obtained with a simple random sample of equal size. To take into account the NLAES sample design, all standard errors of the prevalence estimates presented here were generated using SUDAAN (Research Triangle Institute 1994), a software program that uses appropriate statistical techniques to adjust for sample design characteristics.


The 1992 NLAES included an extensive list of questions designed to assess the presence of symptoms of alcohol abuse and dependence during the 12-month period preceding the interview. We developed these questions, in part, to operationalize the DSM-IV criteria for alcohol-related disorders. Although the DSM-IV classification was not published until the second quarter of 1994, all of the specific diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse and dependence were know prior to beginning the NLAES interviews (APA 1991) and therefore were incorporated into the final survey instrument in their entirety. …

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