Alcohol use disorders identification test: factor structure in an adolescent emergency department sample

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002 Feb;26(2):223-31.


Background: This study examined whether the factor structure of a modified version of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) represented the three intended conceptual domains of consumption, dependence symptoms, and alcohol-related consequences in an adolescent sample. Additionally, the utility of factor-specific cut scores in identifying patients with DSM-IV alcohol diagnoses was investigated.

Methods: Adolescents treated for an injury in an emergency department and who reported alcohol use in the last year (n = 173; 57% male, 72% white) constituted the study sample. A modified version of the AUDIT and the alcohol section of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children were administered. The AUDIT's factor structure was determined by confirmatory factor analysis and exploratory principal components analysis. Factor-specific cut scores that identified adolescents with a DSM-IV alcohol diagnosis were determined by using receiver operating characteristic analysis.

Results: A two-factor model representing consumption and dependence/consequences provided the best fit to the data. A cut score of 3 on the consumption factor and a cut score of 1 on the dependence/consequences factor demonstrated optimal performance in identifying patients with alcohol diagnoses. The consumption factor had better overall performance compared with the dependence/consequences factor, and it had similar overall performance compared with the AUDIT total score.

Conclusions: The AUDIT comprised two correlated factors: consumption and dependence/consequences. The better performance of the consumption factor in detecting adolescents with DSM-IV alcohol diagnoses suggests the utility of including consumption items in brief alcohol screens used with adolescents. Results also indicate the need to identify developmentally appropriate alcohol-related problems to enhance screening performance among adolescents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Emergency Medical Services*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • ROC Curve
  • Wounds and Injuries / therapy*


  • Ethanol