Evaluation of the AC-OK mental health and substance abuse screening measure in an international sample of Latino immigrants

Ligia M. Chavez, Patrick E. Shrout, Ye Wang, Francisco Collazos, Rodrigo Carmona, Margarita Alegría

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background Early detection and intervention in primary care is integral to behavioral health. Valid, practical screening assessments are scarce, particularly for non-English speaking populations. We address this need by evaluating the psychometric properties of the Spanish version of the AC-OK Screen for Co-occurring Disorders for first and second generation immigrant Latinos in Massachusetts, USA, and Madrid and Barcelona, Spain. Methods 567 Latino participants were recruited in waiting areas of clinics or by referral from Primary Care, Mental Health, Substance Use, and HIV Treatment Clinics, as well as Community Agencies. We use confirmatory factor analyses to evaluate the factor structure, correlation analysis to examine concurrent and discriminant validity, and receiver operating curves (ROC) to determine the ability of the AC-OK to approximate a composite of established instruments designed to measure depression, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, alcohol, and drugs (including benzodiazepines) as external criteria. Results The original two factor structure was replicated in samples of Latino respondents in the US and Spain. Correlations with other measures followed the expected pattern. In both the US and Spain, ROC analyses suggested that the AC-OK scale was an adequate approximation to other specific measures of mental health (ROC = 0.90) and substance abuse problems (ROC = 0.83). Conclusions The Spanish version of the AC-OK Screen has good to excellent psychometric properties in both its subscales. These findings are robust across sites, gender, and type of clinic. We recommend its use for clinical research and for routine screening at treatment centers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Immigrant health
  • Latinos
  • Mental Health
  • Psychometric properties
  • Substance Abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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