The Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule: Do they diagnose the same smokers?

E. T. Moolchan, A. Radzius, D. H. Epstein, G. Uhl, D. A. Gorelick, J. L. Cadet, J. E. Henningfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

120 Scopus citations


Two common assessment tools for nicotine dependence are the Fagerstrom Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and the Nicotine Dependence section of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule [(DIS)-III-R or -IV based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)-III-R and -IV, respectively]. The FTND emphasizes morning smoking and overall "heaviness" of smoking. The DSM emphasizes adverse consequences, desire to cut down, and mood changes during withdrawal. We tested (1) how the DSM-III-R diagnosis of Nicotine Dependence is related to FTND score; and (2) how the (a) DSM-III-R or (b) elevated FTND score is related to longer smoking histories, greater psychiatric symptomatology, and tobacco liking scores. Retrospective chart reviews were conducted on 370 smokers, the majority (55.9%) of whom had a current DSM-III-R diagnosis of Substance Dependence other than nicotine. All subjects had completed the FTND, the DIS-III-R, the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R), and a survey on drug liking. Agreement statistics were calculated between the DSM-III-R diagnosis of Nicotine Dependence and various cutoff scores values that were assigned as thresholds for nicotine dependence on the FTND. At no cutoff score did the two instruments reliably agree; the highest κ (at a cutoff of FTND ≥ 7) was 0.205. At cutoffs above 5, the FTND diagnosed fewer cases than the DSM-III-R. Multiple regression analysis showed that DSM diagnosis was associated with greater psychiatric symptomatology on the SCL-90-R, while FTND scores were associated with greater tobacco liking. The FTND and the DSM-III-R appear to measure different aspects of the tobacco dependence process. Specifically, the FTND may provide a stronger measure of physical dependence, while the DSM may tap other domains such as awareness of dependence, behaviors resulting from that awareness, and psychiatric symptomatology. Disagreements between the FTND and the DSM are likely to become greater with the changes in the DSM-IV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-113
Number of pages13
JournalAddictive Behaviors
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Diagnosis
  • DSM
  • FTND
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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