Sexual addiction is estimated to afflict up to 3% to 6% of the population. However, many clinicians lack clear criteria for detecting potential cases.
The present studies were conducted to assess the effectiveness of a brief sexual addiction screening instrument (ie, PATHOS Questionnaire) to correctly classify patients being treated for sex addiction and healthy volunteers.
In study 1, a 6-item questionnaire, which utilizes the mnemonic “PATHOS,” was examined in regard to sensitivity and specificity using a sample combining patients being treated for sex addiction and healthy volunteers (970 men/80.2% patients; 938 women/63.8% patients). In study 2, a cross-validation sample of 672 men (93% patients) and 241 women (35.3% patients) completed the PATHOS screener.
Results of receiver operating characteristics analyses in study 1 demonstrated that the PATHOS captured 92.6% of the area under the curve and achieved 88.3% sensitivity and 81.6% specificity for classifying the male sample (n = 963) as patients and healthy subjects using a cutoff score of 3. Similarly, the PATHOS captured 90.2% of the area under the curve and, with a cutoff of 3, achieved 80.9% sensitivity and 87.2% specificity for the female sample (n = 808). In study 2, results of receiver operating characteristics analyses indicated that the PATHOS captured 85.1% of the area under the curve, with sensitivity of 70.7% and specificity of 86.9% for men (cutoff of 3). For women, the PATHOS captured 80.9% of the area under the curve and achieved 69.7% sensitivity and 85.1% specificity with the cutoff of 3.
These studies provide support for the use of the PATHOS as a screening instrument to detect potential sexual addiction cases in clinical settings.