To investigate the psychometric properties of the frequently used Alcohol Dependence Scale (ADS) in older adults and the associations between ADS scores and alcohol use and DSM‐5 AUD symptom counts.
Using baseline data from an international multicenter RCT on outpatient AUD treatment for adults aged 60+ with DSM‐5 alcohol use disorder (AUD; n = 529), we computed Cronbach’s alpha (α) and applied confirmatory (CFA) and exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to determine the underlying factor structure. A structural equation model (SEM) explored the interrelationship of latent ADS factors with alcohol use and number of DSM‐5 criteria endorsed.
Internal consistency of the ADS (α = 0.81) was good. EFA revealed a three‐factor structure. Factor 1 (“Severe withdrawal symptoms”) consisted of severe psychoperceptual and psychophysical consequences of excessive drinking, Factor 2 (“Loss of control”) consisted of acute physical reactions of intoxication, and Factor 3 (“Obsessive–compulsive drinking”) described habitual drinking. The SEM suggested that only Factor 3 had large effects on DSM‐5 symptom score and drinking behavior.
Lowering the ADS threshold or focusing on ADS items from Factor 3 may be more suitable measures of severity of alcohol dependence in treatment‐seeking older adults as ADS scores are low and not closely related to DSM‐5 AUD.