Measurement of Liability to Addiction: Dimensional Approaches

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Michael Vanyukov
Marie Cornelius
Natacha De Genna
Maureen Reynolds
Galina Kirillova
Brion Maher
Levent Kirisci


 Background:   Biomedical research and its applications, particularly in complex disorders, have historically been guided by the group-defined disease-oriented perspective rather than a person-centered health-oriented approach. This has been an obstacle to the development of prevention and treatment methods. There is thus a need to redirect studies to augment diagnostic systems with individualized phenotypic measurement.  Objectives:   The goal of this paper is to develop a pragmatic dimensional perspective on the complex traits underlying probabilities of disorder development.  Method: Selective literature review of the foundation and methods for measuring liabilities to complex disorders and its aspects, and consultation on practical approaches.  Results:  The paper presents novel applications of the person-centered principle in psychiatric research, particularly addiction science, which can be used in any translation-oriented etiological health studies. These applications focus on the quantitative measurement of the individual phenotype along the full scale of the latent trait of liability and its understudied aspect, resistance to the disorder. Conclusions:  The novel perspective and methodology we introduce facilitate a shift from the group-defined “disease” to the person-centered individual liability phenotype, and from the factors that lead to and determine risk for disease to the mechanisms that result in health and determine resistance to a disorder. 

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