Quick Screen to Detect Current and Future Substance Use Disorder in Adolescent Females

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Levent Kirisci
Maureen Reynolds
Ralph Tartar


Background. Prevention of substance use disorder (SUD) is impeded by the large number, complexity and idiosyncratic configuration of etiological factors.  Effective prevention of SUD is feasible however when intervention resources are prioritized to individuals who are objectively determined high risk and tailored to their  specific characteristics and circumstances.Objective. This study had the aim of developing a rapid accurate screening instrument for determining current presence of and future risk for SUD. Methods. The sample consisted of 182 girls recruited when they were 10-12 years of age and tracked to 22 years of age.  From a large item pool the Drug Use Screening Inventory Quick Screen for Females (DQS-F) was derived consisting of the Substance Involvement Index and the Problem Severity Index.Results. The DQS for Females (DQS-F) has high sensitivity for identifying girls who currently qualify for SUD diagnosis.  Furthermore, accuracy of predicting future SUD with the DQS-F is in the good range at age 16 and in the very good range at age 19.Conclusions. Requiring only three minutes for administration on the Web the DQS-F is an efficient method for identifying girls requiring thorough assessment prior to implementing individualized intervention.

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Author Biography

Levent Kirisci, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh; and Co-Investigator and Director of the Statistics Core of the U.S. NIDA-funded Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research.

I received an M.S. degree in applied statistics (1982) and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees (1985 and 1990) in mathematical and applied statistics, respectively.  Following a staff position at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School (1991-1994), I was appointed to the faculty in 1995 as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry in the University of Pittsburgh.  I was promoted to Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Psychiatry in 2003 and Professor in 2009.   I have been a recipient of Independent Scientist Award from U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). I am also Co-Investigator and Director of the Statistics Core of the U.S. NIDA-funded Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research.  My primary expertise and research focus are devising and evaluating psychometric tools. I have been actively engaged in researching the applications of item response theory methodology and the properties of this methodology. I have spearheaded development of an interval scale to measure the psychological components of SUD liability common across the DSM-IV categories.  Employing item response theory, in conjunction with longitudinal multivariate modeling, a scale termed the liability index has been provisionally validated to quantify SUD risk at ages 10-12, 12-14, 16 and 19 in boys and girls.


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