Data compatibility in the addiction sciences: An examination of measure commonality

Kevin P. Conway, Genevieve C. Vullo, Ashley P. Kennedy, Matthew S. Finger, Arpana Agrawal, James M. Bjork, Lindsay A. Farrer, Dana B. Hancock, Andrea Hussong, Paul Wakim, Wayne Huggins, Tabitha Hendershot, Destiney S. Nettles, Joseph Pratt, Deborah Maiese, Heather A. Junkins, Erin M. Ramos, Lisa C. Strader, Carol M. Hamilton, Kenneth J. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The need for comprehensive analysis to compare and combine data across multiple studies in order to validate and extend results is widely recognized. This paper aims to assess the extent of data compatibility in the substance abuse and addiction (SAA) sciences through an examination of measure commonality, defined as the use of similar measures, across grants funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Data were extracted from applications of funded, active grants involving human-subjects research in four scientific areas (epidemiology, prevention, services, and treatment) and six frequently assessed scientific domains. A total of 548 distinct measures were cited across 141 randomly sampled applications. Commonality, as assessed by density (range of 0-1) of shared measurement, was examined. Results showed that commonality was low and varied by domain/area. Commonality was most prominent for (1) diagnostic interviews (structured and semi-structured) for substance use disorders and psychopathology (density of 0.88), followed by (2) scales to assess dimensions of substance use problems and disorders (0.70), (3) scales to assess dimensions of affect and psychopathology (0.69), (4) measures of substance use quantity and frequency (0.62), (5) measures of personality traits (0.40), and (6) assessments of cognitive/neurologic ability (0.22). The areas of prevention (density of 0.41) and treatment (0.42) had greater commonality than epidemiology (0.36) and services (0.32). To address the lack of measure commonality, NIDA and its scientific partners recommend and provide common measures for SAA researchers within the PhenX Toolkit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-158
Number of pages6
JournalDrug and Alcohol Dependence
StatePublished - Aug 1 2014


  • Data harmonization
  • Gene-environment interactions
  • Measure commonality
  • Standard measures
  • Substance use, abuse, and addiction


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