OBJECTIVE: Given the prevalence of substance abuse among persons with
psychiatric disorders, substance use assessment should be an integral
component of mental health evaluations. This study examined the validity of
a set of two 5-point rating scales developed for use by mental health
clinicians in rating individual clients' levels of alcohol and other drug
use. METHODS: A sample of 116 psychiatric outpatients who were
participating in a study of psychosocial functioning and substance use was
assessed by researchers using an extensive battery of instruments that
included the Addiction Severity Index and the Timeline Follow-Back
interview. Each client's primary therapist completed the 5-point rating
scales to indicate the client's levels of alcohol and drug use. RESULTS:
Clients were grouped according to their ratings on the 5-point scales.
Significant differences between the groups were found on self-reported
patterns of current alcohol and drug use and substance use history.
CONCLUSIONS: Outpatient therapists provided ratings of clients' alcohol and
drug use that corresponded well with substance use data obtained from an
extensive research battery. The study results support use of clinician
rating scales as a screening tool for identifying problematic alcohol and
other drug use among psychiatric outpatients.