Monday, August 16, 2010

Ignoring Populations Most at Risk When Estimating Prevalence of Drug Use Disorders:

The July 12 CESAR FAX (vol. 19, issue 26) of CSAT reports on a letter to editor of Am J Psych 167(4):473-475, 2010). The authors, Wilson Compton and colleagues, observe that "High rates of DSM-IV substance use disorders among inmates combined with a large inmate population mean that many persons with alcohol and drug use disorders are missed by major US national general population surveys." Hardly anything surprising in that observation - except the fact that this deeply flawed process for making estimates persists. Furthermore, surveys based on "household sampling" miss as well the very sizable population of Americans who are homeless - whose numbers in the US on any given night are estimated at "anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million" (attributed to National Law Center on Homelessness and poverty). When it comes to substance use/misuse, one has to wonder about the relevance of data based on household survey techniques, and worry about the the governmental policy decisions that are based on their findings.

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