Three questions can detect hazardous drinkers

J Fam Pract. 2001 Apr;50(4):313-20.


Objective: The researchers evaluated the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the first 3 questions of the AUDIT (AUDIT-C), the third AUDIT question (AUDIT-3), and quantity-frequency questions for identifying hazardous drinkers in a large primary care sample.

Study design: Cross-sectional survey.

Population: Patients waiting for care at 12 primary care sites in western Pennsylvania from October 1995 to December 1997.

Outcomes measured: Sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, and predictive values for the AUDIT, AUDIT-C, and AUDIT-3.

Results: A total of 13,438 patients were surveyed. Compared with a quantity-frequency definition of hazardous drinking (> or =16 drinks/week for men and > or =12 drinks/week for women), the AUDIT, AUDIT-C, and AUDIT-3 had areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUROC) of 0.940, 0.949, and 0.871, respectively. The AUROCs of the AUDIT and AUDIT-C were significantly different (P=.004). The AUROCs of the AUDIT-C (P<.001) and AUDIT (P <.001) were significantly larger than the AUDIT-3. When compared with a positive AUDIT score of 8 or higher, the AUDIT-C (score > or =3) and the AUDIT-3 (score > or =1) were 94.9% and 99.6% sensitive and 68.8% and 51.1% specific in detecting individuals as hazardous drinkers.

Conclusions: In a large primary care sample, a 3-question version of the AUDIT identified hazardous drinkers as well as the full AUDIT when such drinkers were defined by quantity-frequency criterion. This version of the AUDIT may be useful as an initial screen for assessing hazardous drinking behavior.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening*
  • Middle Aged
  • ROC Curve