The following is a summary of “A systematic review of brief, freely accessible, and valid self-report measures for substance use disorders and treatment,” published in the February 2023 issue of Psychiatry Stewart et al.
Many self-report assessments are time-consuming and expensive, limiting their utility in community practice and non-specialty healthcare settings, but they can improve evidence-based evaluation methods in substance use disorder therapy. In this comprehensive study, researchers looked for and analyzed the reliability and validity of brief, cost-free, and easily accessible self-report measures of substance use and related variables. In May 2021, researchers retrieved the names of all scales, measures, and instruments published in the literature on substance use, substance use treatment, and recovery. Brief (less than 25 items), easily accessible online, and supported by published psychometric data were all requirements for inclusion.
The original search yielded 411 metrics; however, only 73 (18%) were suitable for inclusion. Alcohol, nicotine, opioids, cannabinoids, and cocaine were only some of the included drugs and measurement domains (e.g., use, severity, expectancies, withdrawal). The psychometric quality of these measures was evaluated as follows: 14 (19%) excellent; 27 (37%) good; 32 (44%) adequate. In the last twenty years, evidence-based assessment has shifted toward treating substance use disorders, but important public health sectors still need more pragmatic, psychometrically accurate assessments. Less than one-fifth of the short measures researchers looked at satisfied criteria for psychometric “excellence,” Most of these tools were used for screening for problematic substance use. New low-burden measures for particular substances and treatment components should be developed, and the evidence base for existing brief self-report measures should be strengthened.