Comparison of Direct Interview and Family History Diagnoses of Alcohol Dependence

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Aug;19(4):1018-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1995.tb00983.x.


Using data from The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, we compare direct interview diagnoses of alcohol dependence to those obtained by history from family members. Using a requirement of three or more positive implications by history, the specificity, sensitivity, and positive predictive values are 98%, 39%, and 45%, respectively. A logistic analysis found the gender of the relative and alcoholism in the informant to be significant, but not the gender of the informant. The partial odds ratio of a diagnosis at interview associated with a positive family history diagnosis was 13.6. The relationship between the informant and relative was significant, with negative reports from an offspring or mate more influential than a negative report from a parent or second-degree relative. We derived a recursive equation to combine a variable number of family history reports, wherein the probabilities associated with a single report are computed from the logistic analysis. This permits the use of family history information both as a proxy for an uninterviewed relative, as well as a second source of information to be used in the analysis of genetic family data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis
  • Alcoholism / genetics*
  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Child of Impaired Parents / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results