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Comment & Response
May 2016

NESARC Findings on Increased Prevalence of Marijuana Use Disorders—Consistent With Other Sources of Information

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 2Laboratory of Epidemiology and Biometry, Division of Intramural Clinical and Biological Research, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland
JAMA Psychiatry. 2016;73(5):532. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2015.3158

To the Editor We appreciate the thoughtful research letter by Grucza et al.1 They speculated that owing to increasing social acceptability of marijuana, the substantial increases in the prevalence of marijuana use and marijuana use disorder (MUD) in the National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) III compared with NESARC2 were owing to reporting differences, not true increases in prevalence. Grucza et al1 reasoned that because of changes in social desirability, participants were more willing to report marijuana use to a NESARC interviewer in 2012-2013 than in 2001-2002, while suggesting that the privacy of National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) audio computer-assisted self-interviews would preclude the effects of changing social desirability on reporting. We think that changing social desirability could also affect NSDUH audio computer-assisted self-interview reporting, resulting in the modest NSDUH increases in use. However, the important point is whether the larger NESARC/NESARC-III increases are real. One way to assess this is by triangulating in other sources of information that do not rely on survey self-report data or interview methods.

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