Reliability of self-reported alcohol use in psychiatric settings

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Kate B. Carey


Self-reported, Alcohol use

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy


Persons with psychiatric disorders are at increased risk for experiencing the negative consequences of problematic drinking behavior. Assessment of alcohol abuse in this population is therefore crucial. Self-report based instruments are flexible, inexpensive, as well as easily administered, and can be used in mental health settings to assess alcohol abuse among psychiatric patients. However, the psychometrics of these instruments have not been well investigated with psychiatric populations. Specifically, very little is known about the temporal stability of self-report-based measures in psychiatric settings. Further, the potential for clinical respondent characteristics to influence the performance of such measures has not been addressed. The present study addressed two primary goals: (a) determination of test-retest reliability of three self-report based alcohol assessments and (b) ability of clinical respondent factors (i.e., memory and psychiatric symptomatology) to predict consistency in responses from Time 1 to Time 2 in an outpatient mental health setting. Participants were 71 persons, all with Axis I diagnoses, who were receiving outpatient psychiatric care from a local state psychiatric facility. Test-retest reliability coefficients indicated that responses to these self-report based measures were highly reliable over time. Memory performance and psychiatric symptomatology did not interfere with temporal stability of responses in this sample. However, other respondent characteristics such as gender, age, and history of alcohol-use disorder were found to be associated with consistency of self-reports of alcohol use and related consequences over time. These results are summarized and integrated with respect to existing literature. Implications for clinicians and researchers are discussed, followed by suggestions for future research.