Measuring substance use in specialist services

First published: 09 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

There is no simple, evidence derived assessment tool for substance use in a self completion format. Commonly used tools are the ASSIST and AUDIT, which are designed for screening, and the Addiction Severity Index (ASI) and Treatment Outcome Profile (TOP), which are both practitioner completed. Aims: To validate the Substance Use in Specialist Services (SUSS) tool for measuring substance use. Methods: Participants were recruited from a specialist treatment agency. Concurrent validity was tested against ASSIST, AUDIT and TOP; convergent validity was tested against the Leeds Dependence Questionnaire, Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation (10 item), the Social Satisfaction Questionnaire and the EQ5D.  Findings: There were high order correlations for concurrent validity and lower, more variable correlations for convergent validity. Conclusions: The SUSS is an alternative to the substance use sections of ASSIST, AUDIT and TOP. SUSS has the advantages of brevity, self-completion format, and inclusion of prescribed medications. SUSS is intended for packaging with other single construct scales.


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Dr Duncan Raistrick