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Endorsement of specific alcohol use disorder criterion items changes with age in individuals with persistent alcohol use disorders in 2 generations of the San Diego Prospective Study



Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) alcohol use disorder (AUD) criteria are written in broad enough terms to apply to diverse populations. The current analyses evaluate whether the endorsement of criteria changes with increasing age in individuals with persistent AUDs.


Data regarding AUDs persisting across 3 timepoints between average ages of 31 and 43 were gathered about every 5 years from 318 interviews for 106 San Diego Prospective Study (SDPS) AUD male probands. Similar data regarding persistent AUDs across 2 timepoints were obtained from 136 interviews with 68 SDPS AUD offspring between average ages of 21 and 27. Changes in the endorsement of each AUD criterion were evaluated using Cochran's Q test.


For AUD probands across time, significant decreases were observed in the proportions endorsing 4 criteria (tolerance, withdrawal, failure to fulfill obligations, and using alcohol in hazardous situations). Increased rates of endorsement were documented for 3 criteria (drinking alcohol in higher amounts or for longer periods of time, spending a great deal of time regarding alcohol, and continued use despite social or interpersonal problems). Significant increases in rates of endorsements for offspring were seen for spending a great deal of time regarding alcohol and giving up or reducing important activities in order to drink.


These data indicate that the salience of many DSM AUD criterion items changed significantly with age in both SDPS generations among individuals with persistent AUDs. The current results support the need for additional systematic research to determine whether specific criterion items might need to be weighted differently in evaluating older and younger individuals with persistent AUDs.

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