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SSAGA-I and SSAGA-II Information

The Semi-Structured 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 = .44).

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 drug dependence.

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 disorders.


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, 19:1018-1023.

Last updated 03/13/2008