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November 1966

Survey Measurements of the Prevalence of Alcoholism: A Review of Five Surveys

Author Affiliations

From the State of California Department of Mental Hygiene, Mendocino State Hospital, Talmage, Calif.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1966;15(5):455-461. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1966.01730170007003

MANY and varied are the types of problems to be encountered when one embarks on a discussion of either alcoholism prevalence or its measurement. There are problems of definition, recognition, and of purpose of the measurement. Also of importance are the questions for whom is the report to be interpreted, and with what intent—research? clinician ? program administrator ? legislative assembly? a fund granting agency? the public ? These problems are variously proportioned among the many personal and professional backgrounds, attitudes, goals, and interests of the involved workers.

For many years the backbone (and indeed the only scientifically based) instrument used to assess alcoholism prevalence was the Jellinek * Estimation Formula. The Formula has as its basic parameter recorded deaths attributable to cirrhosis of the liver. Some early survey approaches to the measurement of alcoholism prevalence included attempts to treat the validity of the Estimation Formula,3 efforts to quantify the problem as viewed

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