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Screening for Substance Use Disorders Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Examining the Validity of the AUDIT and the DAST

Bryce, Shayden BBNSc(Hons); Spitz, Gershon PhD; Ponsford, Jennie PhD

The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: September/October 2015 - Volume 30 - Issue 5 - p E40–E48
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0000000000000091
Original Articles
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Objective: To examine the validity of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST)—2 widely recommended rating scales—in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) population at 24 months following injury. The Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was used as the gold standard criterion.

Setting: TBI rehabilitation program at Epworth Hospital, Victoria, Australia.

Participants: A total of 113 individuals, 87 males and 26 females, with complicated mild to severe TBI.

Design: Prospective study documenting substance use following TBI.

Main measures: AUDIT, DAST, and Structured Clinical Interview for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Results: In individuals with TBI, a cutoff score of 11 on the AUDIT may be the most appropriate indicator of an alcohol use disorder whereas a cutoff score of 6 on the DAST may be the most appropriate indicator of drug use disorder. Both screening measures demonstrated excellent diagnostic accuracy at 24 months following injury.

Conclusion: The optimal cutoff score for the AUDIT may need to be elevated for use following TBI. Nevertheless, both the AUDIT and the DAST are suitable measures for assessing substance use following TBI. Given the importance of uniformity in postinjury assessment, the AUDIT and the DAST may serve as future screening standards in TBI research.

School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia (Mr Bryce and Drs Spitz and Ponsford); and Monash-Epworth Rehabilitation Research Centre, Epworth Hospital, Richmond, Victoria, Australia (Drs Spitz and Ponsford).

Corresponding Author: Jennie Ponsford, PhD, School of Psychological Sciences, Monash University, Bldg 17, Wellington Rd, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia (jennie.ponsford@monash.edu).

This research was part of a larger project funded by a grant from the Transport Accident Commission of Victoria.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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