Patient attitudes towards self-report and biomarker alcohol screening by primary care physicians

Alcohol Alcohol. May-Jun 2006;41(3):306-10. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agl022. Epub 2006 Mar 30.


Aims: One of the many barriers to more frequent alcohol screening by primary care physicians is a reported concern that patients may be offended by questions about drinking. However, evidence suggests that patients do not object to alcohol screening and actually expect physicians to ask about lifestyle factors that influence their health. The aim of this study was to provide more detailed information on patient attitudes toward self-report and biomarker alcohol screening and to explore whether demographic variables were related to these attitudes.

Methods: We administered (i) a survey about attitudes towards alcohol screening, and (ii) the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-C (AUDIT-C) to primary care outpatients at the time of their medical appointments. The survey contained 10 items on patient opinions about being screened for at-risk drinking by physicians. Participants rated their levels of agreement with each statement using a 5-point Likert scale. Participants also provided demographic information.

Results: The majority of patients reported that they were supportive of physician screening about alcohol use. Responses on 3 of the 10 statements were related to patient race, age, and/or AUDIT-C results.

Conclusions: In general, results support the fact that patients are in favour of being screened for at-risk drinking by their physicians whether the screening instrument was a self-report measure or an alcohol biomarker laboratory test. In addition, the majority of patients are open to advice from physicians about their alcohol use.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / psychology*
  • Attitude
  • Biomarkers
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Education
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physicians, Family
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Concept
  • Sex Characteristics
  • South Carolina


  • Biomarkers