Dimensionality and differential functioning of DSM-5 cannabis use disorder criteria in an online sample of adults with frequent cannabis use

J Psychiatr Res. 2023 Jul:163:211-221. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2023.05.048. Epub 2023 May 16.


The DSM-5 criteria for cannabis use disorder (CUD) combine DSM-IV dependence and abuse criteria (without legal problems) and new withdrawal and craving criteria. Information on dimensionality, internal reliability, and differential functioning of the DSM-5 CUD criteria is lacking. Additionally, dimensionality of the DSM-5 withdrawal items is unknown. This study examined the psychometric properties of the DSM-5 CUD criteria among adults who used cannabis in the past 7 days (N = 5,119). Adults with frequent cannabis use were recruited from the US general population through social media and filled in a web-based survey about demographics and cannabis use behaviors. Factor analysis was used to assess dimensionality, and item response theory analysis models were used to explore relationships between the criteria and the underlying latent trait (CUD), and whether each criterion and the criteria set functioned differently by demographic and clinical characteristics: sex, age, state-level cannabis laws, reasons for cannabis use, and frequency of use. The DSM-5 CUD criteria showed unidimensionality and provided information about the CUD latent trait across the severity spectrum. The cannabis withdrawal items indicated one underlying latent factor. While some CUD criteria functioned differently in specific subgroups, the criteria set as a whole functioned similarly across subgroups. In this online sample of adults with frequent cannabis use, evidence supports the reliability, validity, and utility of the DSM-5 CUD diagnostic criteria set, which can be used for determining a major risk of cannabis use, i.e., CUD, to inform cannabis policies and public health messaging, and for developing intervention strategies.

Keywords: Cannabis use disorder; Differential functioning; Dimensionality; Item response theory; Psychometrics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cannabis* / adverse effects
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Hallucinogens*
  • Humans
  • Marijuana Abuse* / diagnosis
  • Marijuana Abuse* / epidemiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Substance-Related Disorders* / epidemiology


  • Hallucinogens