A comparison of diagnoses obtained from in-person and telephone interviews, using the semi-structured assessment for the genetics of alcoholism (SSAGA)

John R. Kramer, Grace Chan, Samuel Kuperman, Kathleen K. Bucholz, Howard J. Edenberg, Marc A. Schuckit, Linnea A. Polgreen, Ellen S. Kapp, Victor M. Hesselbrock, John I. Nurnberger, Laura J. Bierut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Objective: The aim of this study was to compare the prevalence of psychiatric diagnoses when the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA-II) interview was administered in person with the prevalence when the SSAGA-II was conducted by telephone. Method: As part of the Collaborative Studies on the Genetics of Alcoholism, SSAGAs were administered either by telephone (n = 1,294) or in person (n = 1,484) to adult relatives of probands (42.3% male). The two modes of interview were compared with respect to reported lifetime prevalence of (1) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) alcohol dependence; (2) other DSM-IV substance-dependence diagnoses (nicotine, marijuana, cocaine, opioid, stimulant, sedative); and (3) DSM-IV nonsubstance diagnoses (i.e., antisocial personality disorder, major depressive disorder, mania, panic, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder). These analyses took into account the potential confounds of gender, age, race, education, income, marital status, and potential within-family correlation. Results: Diagnostic prevalence rates for alcohol dependence and major depressive disorder were lower for telephone interviews than for in-person interviews (7% and 2%, respectively); there were no other significant differences. Conclusions: When circumstances dictate (e.g., subject out of area, subject preference), telephone administration of the SSAGA should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-627
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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