Background: Information about the prognostic implications of a DSM-IV diagnosis of alcohol dependence is important to both clinicians and researchers. In this regard, only limited data are available on the performance of specific diagnostic items.
Methods: This study reports data gathered with a structured, validated interview with 642 alcohol-dependent men and women from the Collaborative Study of the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA). The goals were to evaluate the ability of each of the DSM-IV dependence items to predict the occurrence over the next 5 years of a broad pattern of 27 alcohol-related problems. For comparison, similar data are reported regarding the performance of abuse criteria for 516 additional subjects.
Results: The results revealed that dependence item 3 (use of alcohol in larger amounts) was the only criterion that did not relate significantly to outcome, and indicated that the dependence criteria related relatively similarly to different types of outcomes among alcoholics. No specific combination of diagnostic items stood out in predicting outcome but, rather, the span of items generally performed well.
Conclusions: These data support the potential usefulness of the DSM-IV dependence criteria.