The Epidemiology of Substance Use Disorders in US Veterans: A Systematic Review and Analysis of Assessment Methods

Chiao Wen Lan, David A. Fiellin, Declan T. Barry, Kendall J. Bryant, Adam J. Gordon, E. Jennifer Edelman, Julie R. Gaither, Stephen A. Maisto, Brandon D.L. Marshall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Substance use disorders (SUDs), which encompass alcohol and drug use disorders (AUDs, DUDs), constitute a major public health challenge among US veterans. SUDs are among the most common and costly of all health conditions among veterans. Objectives: This study sought to examine the epidemiology of SUDs among US veterans, compare the prevalence of SUDs in studies using diagnostic and administrative criteria assessment methods, and summarize trends in the prevalence of SUDs reported in studies sampling US veterans over time. Methods: Comprehensive electronic database searches were conducted. A total of 3,490 studies were identified. We analyzed studies sampling US veterans and reporting prevalence, distribution, and examining AUDs and DUDs. Results: Of the studies identified, 72 met inclusion criteria. The studies were published between 1995 and 2013. Studies using diagnostic criteria reported higher prevalence of AUDs (32% vs. 10%) and DUDs (20% vs. 5%) than administrative criteria, respectively. Regardless of assessment method, both the lifetime and past year prevalence of AUDs in studies sampling US veterans has declined gradually over time. Conclusion: The prevalence of SUDs reported in studies sampling US veterans are affected by assessment method. Given the significant public health problems of SUDs among US veterans, improved guidelines for clinical screening using validated diagnostic criteria to assess AUDs and DUDs in US veteran populations are needed. Scientific Significance: These findings may inform VA and other healthcare systems in prevention, diagnosis, and intervention for SUDs among US veterans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7-24
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Journal on Addictions
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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    Lan, C. W., Fiellin, D. A., Barry, D. T., Bryant, K. J., Gordon, A. J., Edelman, E. J., Gaither, J. R., Maisto, S. A., & Marshall, B. D. L. (2016). The Epidemiology of Substance Use Disorders in US Veterans: A Systematic Review and Analysis of Assessment Methods. American Journal on Addictions, 25(1), 7-24. https://doi.org/10.1111/ajad.12319