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Screening psychiatric patients for illicit drug use disorders and problems.

Tiet QQ, Finney JW, Moos RH. Screening psychiatric patients for illicit drug use disorders and problems. Clinical Psychology Review. 2008 Apr 1; 28(4):578-91.

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BACKGROUND: Illicit drug use is prevalent but under-detected among psychiatric patients. This paper reviews the need for a valid, practical screening instrument for detecting drug problems and disorders among psychiatric patients, and describes the appropriateness of existing screening instruments for this purpose. METHODS: Research literature on illicit drug screening instruments is reviewed. RESULTS: All existing instruments lack one or more of the following characteristics that would enable them to be used routinely in psychiatric settings: brief and easy to administer, demonstrated validity for male and female psychiatric patients, measuring illicit drug use problems without confounding with alcohol use problems, and assessing drug problems over an optimal timeframe for screening (e.g., past 12 months). CONCLUSION: Current instruments are not appropriate for routine drug screening of psychiatric patients. A brief, easy to use drug screen should be developed and validated on male and female psychiatric patients for routine screening of drug disorders and problems.

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