Comparison of Direct Interview and Family History Diagnoses of Alcohol Dependence

John P. Rice, Theodore Reich, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Rosalind J. Neuman, Roberta Fishman, Nanette Rochberg, Victor M. Hesselbrock, John I. Nurnberger, Marc A. Schuckit, Henri Begleiter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

447 Scopus citations


Using data from The Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism, we compare direct interview diagnoses of alcohol dependence to those obtained by history from family members. Using a requirement of three or more positive implications by history, the specificity, sensitivity, and positive predictive values are 98%, 39%, and 45%, respectively. A logistic analysis found the gender of the relative and alcoholism in the informant to be significant, but not the gender of the informant. The partial odds ratio of a diagnosis at interview associated with a positive family history diagnosis was 13.6. The relationship between the informant and relative was significant, with negative reports from an offspring or mate more influential than a negative report from a parent or second‐degree relative. We derived a recursive equation to combine a variable number of family history reports, wherein the probabilities associated with a single report are computed from the logistic analysis. This permits the use of family history information both as a proxy for an uninterviewed relative, as well as a second source of information to be used in the analysis of genetic family data.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1023
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1995


  • DSM‐III‐R Alcohol Dependence
  • Family History Diagnoses
  • Genetic Analysis
  • Specificity


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