Assessing the General Health of Diagnostic Orphans Using the Short Form Health Survey (SF-12v2): A Latent Variable Modelling Approach

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Abstract

Aims

Research has demonstrated that diagnostic orphans (i.e. individuals who experience only one to two criteria of DSM-IV alcohol dependence) can encounter significant health problems. Using the SF-12v2, this study examined the general health functioning of alcohol users, and in particular, diagnostic orphans.

Methods

Current drinkers (n=26,913) in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions were categorized into five diagnosis groups: no alcohol use disorder (no-AUD), one-criterion orphans, two-criterion orphans, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. Latent variable modelling was used to assess the associations between the physical and mental health factors of the SF-12v2 and the diagnosis groups and a variety of background variables.

Results

In terms of mental health, one-criterion orphans had significantly better health than two-criterion orphans and the dependence group, but poorer health than the no-AUD group. No significant differences were evident between the one-criterion orphan group and the alcohol abuse group. One-criterion orphans had significantly poorer physical health when compared to the no-AUD group. One- and two-criterion orphans did not differ in relation to physical health.

Conclusion

Consistent with previous research, diagnostic orphans in the current study appear to have experienced clinically relevant symptoms of alcohol dependence. The current findings suggest that diagnostic orphans may form part of an alcohol use disorders spectrum severity.

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