Standardised screening and assessment

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The informal assessment process can be aided by a range of standardised screening and assessment tools. Standardised tools can be a useful means of gathering data by providing a reliable and valid view of the client’s difficulties and current life situation [452, 453]. Furthermore, when conducted appropriately, the process of standardised assessment can be a source of rapport building [454, 455].

Groth-Marnat [425, 456] suggests that when conducting standardised assessment, it is important to:

  • Provide the client with the reasons for assessment and the purpose of each instrument.
  • Explain that it is a standard procedure.
  • Explain how standardised assessment can be useful in helping clients achieve their goals (e.g., by providing an objective measure).
  • Provide appropriate and timely feedback of the results of the assessment.

Standardised assessment is an ongoing process, but should be completed upon entry into and exit from treatment, as well as at follow-up [102, 389]. Test results can provide useful clinical information (for both the client and AOD worker) on the client’s case and an evaluation of how effective treatment has been. A variety of different tools are used, some of which are empirically established instruments, whilst others are purpose-built, internally designed tools with increased practicality and utility but unknown validity and reliability [457, 458]. Some helpful screening tools have been included in Appendices J – Y. Standardised tools cover a range of areas that may be relevant to AOD services, including global health, general health and functioning, and specific mental health conditions. Table 26 lists the standardised screening and assessment tools discussed in this section. 

Table 26: Standardised screening and assessment tools

Instrument Measures Number of items Administration Where to access
General health and functioning

Camberwell Assessment of Need (CAN)

Client Version (CANSAS-P) 

Comprehensive assessment and outcome of needs in 22 areas


Self or clinician Appendix J
General mental health instruments
Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) Screening and outcomes for depression, anxiety, stress and general psychological distress 21 or 42


Appendix K

Indigenous Risk Impact Screen (IRIS)

AOD problems and mental health risk

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander specific


Clinician Appendix L
Kessler psychological distress scale (K10) Screening for psychological distress


Self or clinician Appendix M
PsyCheck Screening for general mental health, suicide/self-harm, symptoms of depression and anxiety

25 or 29

Mixed Appendix N
Specific mental health instruments
Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale 
Symptoms of ADHD


Self or clinician Appendix O
The Eating Disorder Examination (EDE) Past month eating disorder psychopathology

Semi-structured interview

The Eating Disorder Examination Questionnaire (EDE-Q) Past month eating disorder psychopathology


International Trauma Questionnaire (ITQ) PTSD and Complex PTSD


Self or clinician Appendix P
Iowa Personality Disorder Screen (IPDS) Personality Disorder


Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5) Lifetime exposure to traumatic events


Self Appendix Q
Primary Care PTSD for DSM-5 (PC-PTSD-5) Probable DSM-5 PTSD


Self or clinician Appendix R
PTSD Check List for DSM-5 (PCL-5) PTSD symptoms


Self Appendix S
Psychosis Screener (PS) Psychosis symptoms


Clinician Appendix T
Standardised Assessment of Personality – Abbreviated Scale (SAPAS-SR) Personality disorder


General AOD instruments
Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST) Screening for AOD use and risk (lifetime and recent use, specific AOD use, frequency, dependence, abuse, intravenous use)


Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) Screening and outcome of alcohol use (use, dependence and related problems)


Self or clinician Appendix U
CAGE Questionnaire Screening to identify problematic alcohol use


Self or clinician Appendix V
Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST-10) Screening and assessment to identify problematic drug use over past 12-months


Self or clinician Appendix W
Drug Use Disorders Identification Test (DUDIT) Screening and outcome of drug use (use, dependence and related problems)


Self or clinician Appendix X
Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (MAST) Screening and assessment to identify lifetime problematic alcohol use


Self or clinician Appendix Y
Timeline Follow Back (TLFB) Assessment and outcome tool to collect information on the quantity/frequency/duration of AOD use over specific time period

Dependent on time period

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