Most screening and assessment instruments were developed and tested in adult male populations. These instruments vary in their ability to detect substance use disorders and other problems among different populations. Gender, age, ethnicity, literacy, and physical or cognitive inability may affect the ability of the instrument to identify and address problems.

For women, using a longer, more flexible format is often useful, particularly to explore unanticipated issues that may arise. Females are more likely to have trauma-related problems and co-occurring (mental health and substance abuse) disorders. In addition, females are also more likely to be affected by poverty, abuse histories, unstable social supports, and medical problems.

Screening and assessment instruments can be adapted to use with women, adolescents, or a particular ethnic group. However, if a questionnaire is substantially modified for use with specific populations, research is needed to validate the effectiveness of the modified instrument. The administration of the questionnaire may also be altered for specific populations. For example, when providing a clinical assessment, it may be necessary to: (1) schedule breaks during interview sessions, (2) move at a slower pace during the interview, and (3) obtain collateral information to verify key information related to mental disorder symptoms, treatment and medication use, and interactive effects of mental health and alcohol and other drug problems.

For more information on mental health problems — See Section 3

For more information on
adolescents—See Section 5