A latent class analysis of DSM-IV alcohol use disorder criteria and binge drinking in undergraduates

Cheryl L. Beseler, Laura A. Taylor, Deborah T. Kraemer, Robert F. Leeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Background: Adolescent and adult samples have shown that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV (DSM-IV) abuse and dependence criteria lie on a continuum of alcohol problem severity, but information on criteria functioning in college students is lacking. Prior factor analyses in a college sample (Beseler et al., 2010) indicated that a 2-factor solution fit the data better than a single-factor solution after a binge drinking criterion was included. The second dimension may indicate a clustering of criteria related to excessive alcohol use in this college sample. Methods: The present study was an analysis of data from an anonymous, online survey of undergraduates (N=361) that included items pertaining to the DSM-IV alcohol use disorder (AUD) diagnostic criteria and binge drinking. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to determine whether the criteria best fit a categorical model, with and without a binge drinking criterion. Results: In an LCA including the AUD criteria only, a 3-class solution was the best fit. Binge drinking worsened the fit of the models. The largest class (class 1, n=217) primarily endorsed tolerance (18.4%); none were alcohol dependent. The middle class (class 2, n=114) endorsed primarily tolerance (81.6%) and drinking more than intended (74.6%); 34.2% met criteria for dependence. The smallest class (class 3, n=30) endorsed all criteria with high probabilities (30 to 100%); all met criteria for dependence. Alcohol consumption patterns did not differ significantly between classes 2 and 3. Class 3 was characterized by higher levels on several variables thought to predict risk of alcohol-related problems (e.g., enhancement motives for drinking, impulsivity, and aggression). Conclusions: Two classes of heavy-drinking college students were identified, one of which appeared to be at higher risk than the other. The highest risk group may be less likely to "mature out" of high-risk drinking after college.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-161
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol Typology
  • Alcohol Use Disorders
  • College Students
  • Impulsivity
  • Latent Class Analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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