The Bayesian Alcoholism Test had better diagnostic properties for confirming diagnosis of hazardous and harmful alcohol use

J Clin Epidemiol. 2005 Oct;58(10):1024-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jclinepi.2005.02.020.


Objective: Conventional tests for alcoholism fail to confirm hazardous and harmful alcohol use (HHAU) accurately and objectively. We validated a Bayesian Alcoholism Test (BAT) for confirming the diagnosis of HHAU.

Study design and setting: BAT is based on studies on the prevalence of HHAU and other diseases causing similar abnormalities, and on conditional probabilities of these disorders and associated biochemical markers and clinical signs. BAT was compared to carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) in treatment-seeking alcoholics, non-treatment-seeking heavy drinkers, and controls. Main outcome measures were test sensitivity and specificity, likelihood ratios, and receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curves.

Results: Comparing alcoholics and controls, sensitivity of BAT (94%) was significantly higher than CDT (63%) and GGT (73%). The area under the ROC curve for BAT (.989) was significantly higher than the area under the curve for CDT (.909) and area under the curve for GGT (.902). Using pooled data of all 182 subjects included in the study, the amount of drinking had a significant better correlation coefficient with BAT (.795) than with CDT (.657), and GGT (.604).

Conclusion: BAT has better diagnostic properties than CDT and GGT for confirming HHAU.

Publication types

  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / diagnosis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Transferrin / analogs & derivatives
  • Transferrin / analysis
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Transferrin
  • carbohydrate-deficient transferrin
  • Ethanol
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alanine Transaminase