Can a Single Question Detect Drug Use and Drug Use Disorders?
A short accurate screening test for drug use and drug use disorders would be useful in primary care. In this study, researchers asked 286 adult primary-care patients the following question: “How many times in the past year have you used an illegal drug or used a prescription medication for nonmedical reasons?” A positive response was “at least 1 time.” Participants also completed the 10-item Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST). Responses were compared with oral fluid testing for illegal drugs and the Composite International Diagnostic Interview—Substance Abuse Module (reference standard).
- The single-question screen was 85% sensitive and 96% specific for current drug use (either self-reported or confirmed by positive oral fluid test). It was 100% sensitive and 74% specific for a drug use disorder (abuse or dependence).
- The test characteristics of the single-question screen were similar to the 10- item DAST and were not substantially affected by patient demographic characteristics.