Even though some of the features of clinical and addictions assessment tools may coincide, they are two different notions that must be distinguished. Similar to addiction assessment, a clinical evaluation may consist of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured interviews. Additionally, clinical screening may include neurological or biological tests. It should be noted that questions asked in the process of assessment differ considerably depending on its type. Therefore, clinical assessment may not replace addictions assessment and vice versa.
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The assessment tools are regulated by different authorities and have distinct purposes. According to Samet et al., addiction assessment tools are reliable and effective only for the cases of addictions, while the clinical screening may be used only as a supplementary measure for the diagnosis of comorbid conditions. Addictions assessment evaluates all the bio-psycho-social factors including type, amount, frequency, and consequences of a clients’ addiction, their medical history, readiness to change, and history of substance use in the family. Clinical assessment, most of the time, focuses more on the physical representation of the problem and relies on test results. Since the choice of appropriate assessment strategy is central for making relevant findings, therapists are to use only reliable and valid instruments.
Even though the discussed types of assessment differ, the accumulated results may supplement each other. For instance, Samet et al. encourage to omit or alter the questions of semi-structured assessment instruments considering the uniqueness of every client. Samet et al. state that the results of previous tests may be incorporated into the assessment process to save time to avoid irritation from patients. Therefore, therapists should omit or alter questions of addiction assessment instruments if these questions were asked during the clinical interviews.
Samet, Sharon, et al. “Assessing Addiction: Concepts and Instruments.” Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, vol. 4, no. 1, 2007, pp. 19-31, Web.