Comparison of CAGE questionnaire and computer-assisted laboratory profiles in screening for covert alcoholism

Lancet. 1990 Aug 25;336(8713):482-5. doi: 10.1016/0140-6736(90)92022-a.


To identify the most effective method of screening for covert alcoholism Ewing's CAGE questionnaire was compared with several computer-assisted laboratory data profiles in a prospectively gathered, random sample of 915 adults admitted to a general hospital. Whether a subject was alcohol dependent (n = 244) or not (n = 671), as defined by DSM-III-R, was determined on the basis of a structured interview. The CAGE questionnaire was highly sensitive (76%) and specific (94%) for recognition of alcohol dependence (positive predictive power 87%). None of the discriminant laboratory functions gave recognition rates greater than chance alone. Until the sensitivities, specificities, and positive predictive powers of computer-assisted methods improve, brief interview alone remains the best screening method for general hospital populations.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Diagnosis, Computer-Assisted*
  • Discriminant Analysis
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Hematocrit
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sodium / blood
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Uric Acid
  • Sodium
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alkaline Phosphatase