Faculty Articles

Evaluation of the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (YBOCS-Hd) For Heavy Drinking With Mild to Moderately Dependent Alcohol Abusers

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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research





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Background: Many similarities have been noted between urges and desires to drink heavily and obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD). Based on such similarities, Modell et al. (1992) developed the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale for heavy drinking (YBOCS-hd), a modified version of YBOCS, to assess obsessions and compulsions related to heavy drinking. Evaluation of the YBOCS-hd has been limited to more severely dependent alcohol abusers.

Methods: The present study used a self-administered version of the YBOCS-hd to evaluate (1) the severity of drinking-related obsessive compulsive symptoms with mild to moderately dependent alcohol abusers (problem drinkers), and (2) whether end-of-treatment changes in YBOCS-hd scores would be related to within-treatment functioning.

Results: Results indicated that problem drinkers have lower alcohol-related Obsessive and Compulsive subscale scores than did more severely dependent drinkers, but higher scores than did non-problem drinkers, supporting the construct validity of the YBOCS-hd. In addition, at the end of treatment, the YBOCS-hd scores of alcohol abusers who drank at low-risk levels during treatment were significantly lower than the scores of those who drank at high-risk levels. Lastly, exploratory factor analysis did not provide support for the two purported YBOCS-hd subscales (Obsessive, Compulsive). Instead, the analysis yielded a single general factor and a second factor that contained two questions measuring heavy drinking.

Conclusions: Despite the fact that total YBOCS-hd scores covaried with drinking, neither the total YBOCS-hd pretreatment score nor the two subscale scores predicted functioning at the end of treatment. The present results call into question the utility of the YBOCS-hd, because a single item measuring the heaviness of drinking was as useful as the total YBOCS-hd and its two subscales in relating changes during treatment to end-of-treatment functioning for problem drinkers. However, although the YBOCS-hd does not predict changes in drinking, it may have value as an indirect measure of drinking in situations where direct measurement of alcohol consumption is undesirable (i.e., direct measurement might be reactive). Because the present findings are derived from problem drinkers, further research is needed to confirm the factor structure of the YBOCS-hd with clients who represent a broader range of alcohol problem severity.



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