Background: Considering the increasing levels of psychoactive substance use in Brazil and around the world, it is necessary the development of an instrument to early detection, that could be considered valid, reliable and useful at primary health care settings. In order to do that, an international team of researchers, supported by the World Health Organization (WHO) developed the Alcohol Smoking and Substance Screening Test (ASSIST). The objective of the present study was to evaluate the psychometric properties of the Brazilian version of ASSIST, as well as its reliability and concurrent validity in the detection of psychoactive substance use and related problems.
Methods: The ASSIST and three validated diagnostic instruments (Mini-Plus, AUDIT, RTQ) were applied to 99 patients of primary/secondary health care services and to 48 patients in treatment for alcohol and drug dependence in specialized services, at São Paulo and Curitiba cities.
Results: The ASSIST' scores to alcohol showed good correlation with AUDIT' scores. The ASSIST presented high sensitivity and specificity in the detection of alcohol, cannabis and cocaine abuse/dependence, considering the MINI-Plus diagnostic the "gold-standard". The reliability of the instrument was good (Cronbach's alpha of 0.80 to alcohol, 0.79 to cannabis and 0.81 to cocaine).
Conclusions: The psychometric properties of the Brazilian version of the ASSIST seem to be satisfactory, recommending its use in patients of primary/secondary health care services.