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Clinical measurement of addictions


Richard Cloutier MD, FRCPC, MSc, Clinical Psychiatrist, Alain Lesage MD, MPhil, Associate Director, Michel Landry PhD, Research Advisor, Sylvia Kairouz PhD, Assistant Professor, Jean-Marc Ménard MA, Coordinator. Dr Richard Cloutier, Hôpital Louis-H. Lafontaine, 7401 Hochelaga, Montréal, QC, Canada H1N 3M5. Tel: +1 514 282 6060; Fax: +1 514 282 5030; E-mail:


Introduction and Aims.To conduct a systematic review of instruments for the clinical measurement of addictive behaviours and to determine whether substance addictive behaviours (SAB) and non-substance addictive behaviours (NSAB) are similarly conceptualised in clinical research.

Design and Methods.The analytic strategy employed comprised three steps: (i) major search engines were used to take stock of available clinical instruments for assessing addictive behaviours; (ii) an analysis grid was developed and validated, covering 21 parameters under four heuristic categories: dependence, temperament, social handicap and cognitive behaviour; and (iii) all instruments were analysed and compared via the grid.

Results.The search yielded 157 questionnaires covering 14 addictive behaviours. The analysis grid allowed rating all questionnaire items on one parameter only; very good interrater agreement was maintained throughout. The categories most evaluated by the questionnaires were dependence and cognitive behaviour; temperament and social handicap were much less frequently considered. Patterns were generally similar in terms of categories, whether questionnaires concerned SAB or NSAB; however, differences within categories indicated a greater frequency of psychologically oriented parameters for NSAB.

Conclusions.The measurement of addictive behaviours appears clinically cohesive, as determined by a validated analysis grid applied to an exhaustive set of questionnaires identified through a systematic literature review.[Cloutier R, Lesage A, Landry M, Kairouz S, Ménard J-M. Clinical measurement of addictions. Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:33–39]