Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism (SSAGA), expressly developed for COGA, is a
polydiagnostic psychiatric interview that covers the major psychiatric disorders in
DSM-III-R and provides complete diagnoses in DSM-III-R and ICD-10 as well as diagnoses for
Substance Dependence in Feighner and DSM-IV.
Companion instruments for use with children, ages 7-12 (C-SSAGA-C),
adolescents, ages 13-17 (C-SSAGA-A) and for interviewing parents about their children
(C-SSAGA-P) are also available.
The reliability of the SSAGA has been assessed in relation to both rater
test-retest (Bucholz et al., 1994) as well as a comparison of raters across COGA Centers
(Bucholz, Hesselbrock, Shayka, et al., 1995). Test-retest reliabilities for lifetime
DSM-III-R alcohol and other drug dependencies as well as major depressive disorder and the
antisocial personality disorder were high, with agreement ranging from Kappa .70 - .90.
The cross-center agreement was also acceptable for alcohol and other drug
dependencies, with Kappa ranging from .57 to 1.00, except for stimulant dependence (K =
A second study (Hesselbrock, M. et al., 1999) examined the concurrent
diagnostic validity of the Semi-Structured Assessment for the Genetics of Alcoholism
(SSAGA) across alcohol and drug dependencies, major depression, anxiety disorders, and
ASPD in relation to The Schedule for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN; WHO).
Concordance between the two instruments for the diagnoses surveyed was good. Kappas for
substance dependence ranged from K=.63 for alcohol dependence to K=.85 for cocaine and
stimulant dependence. Kappa for major depression was .71, for ASPD K=.70, and Kappa
=.62 for panic disorder. These data, combined with results from two previous studies
which examined reliability, indicate that the SSAGA is a highly reliable and valid
instrument for use in studies of a variety of psychiatric disorders, including alcohol and
Unique features of the SSAGA compared to other structured research
interviews include attention to making diagnoses according to several criteria systems,
the addition of nondiagnostic items for phenotyping of alcoholism, and attention to
comorbidity of alcohol/substance diagnoses in relation to other non-substance abuse
SSAGA II (revised 1997) covers the major psychiatric disorders in DSM-IV
and provides complete diagnoses in DSM-IV, DSM-III-R and ICD-10. It was also
designed to make diagnoses according to many different diagnostic classifications so that
results can be directly compared with older studies in the literature (e.g. those based
upon Feighner criteria or DSM-III). The alcohol section of the SSAGA II contains 45
multi-part items. Additional questions were added for phenotyping purposes.
Companion instruments for use with children, ages 7-12 (C-SSAGA-C-II)
(revised 1997), adolescents, ages 13-17 (C-SSAGA-A-II) (revised 1997), and for
interviewing parents about chidren (C-SSAGA-P-II) (revised 1997) are also available.
The Family History Assessment Module (FHAM) is administered to all family
members. It covers the DSM-III-R diagnoses of Alcohol, Drugs, Depression, Mania,
Schizophrenia, and ASP (Rice et al., 1995).
Bucholz et al., (1994). A new semi-structured psychiatric
interview for use in genetic linkage studies: a report on the reliability of the
SSAGA. J of Studies on Alcohol, 55:149-158.
Bucholz et al., (1995). Reliability of individual diagnostic
criterion items for psychoactive substance dependence and the impact on diagnosis. J
of Studies on Alcohol, 56:500-505.
Hesselbrock et al, (1999) A validity study of the SSAGA - A comparison
with the SCAN. Addiction, 94(9):1361-1370.
Rice et al., (1995) Comparison of direct interview and familyhistory
diagnoses of alcohol dependence. Alcoholism: Clinical and Exp Res,