Open Access Research

Validation of the French version of the alcohol, smoking and substance involvement screening test (ASSIST) in the elderly

Riaz Khan1*, Anne Chatton1, Gabriel Thorens1, Sophia Achab1, Audrey Nallet1, Barbara Broers2, Gerard Calzada1, Vladimir Poznyak3, Daniele Zullino1 and Yasser Khazaal1

Author Affiliations

1 Division for Addictology Department of mental health and psychiatry University Hospitals, Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland

2 Department of Primary care and community medicine, University Hospitals, Geneva University, Geneva, Switzerland

3 Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

For all author emails, please log on.

Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2012, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1747-597X-7-14

Published: 26 April 2012



Substance use disorders seem to be an under considered health problem amongst the elderly. The Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test (ASSIST), was developed by the World Health Organization to detect substance use disorders. The present study evaluates the psychometric properties of the French version of ASSIST in a sample of elderly people attending geriatric outpatient facilities (primary care or psychiatric facilities).


One hundred persons older than 65 years were recruited from clients attending a geriatric policlinic day care centre and from geriatric psychiatric facilities. Measures included ASSIST, Addiction Severity Index (ASI), Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview (MINI-Plus), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), Revised Fagerstrom Tolerance Questionnaire-Smoking (RTQ) and MiniMental State(MMS).


Concurrent validity was established with significant correlations between ASSIST scores, scores from ASI, AUDIT, RTQ, and significantly higher ASSIST scores for patients with a MINI-Plus diagnosis of abuse or dependence. The ASSIST questionnaire was found to have high internal consistency for the total substance involvement along with specific substance involvement as assessed by Cronbach’s α, ranging from 0.66, to 0.89 .


The findings demonstrate that ASSIST is a valid screening test for identifying substance use disorders in elderly.

Addiction; Substance use disorders; Tobacco; Alcohol; ASSIST; Elderly