Stability of the alcohol use disorders identification test in practical service settings

Subst Abuse Rehabil. 2017 Mar 24;8:1-8. doi: 10.2147/SAR.S126664. eCollection 2017.


Objective: The purpose of the present study is to explore the stability of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) in a clinical setting by comparing prescreening heavy drinking questions and AUDIT scores over time. Because instrument stability is equal to test-retest reliability at worst, investigating the stability of the AUDIT would help better understand patient behavior change in context and the appropriateness of the AUDIT in a clinical setting.

Methods: This was a retrospective exploratory analysis of Visit 1 to Visit 2 AUDIT stability (n=1,099; male [75.4%], female [24.6%]) from all patients with first-time and second-time records in the Iowa Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment project, October 2012 to July 7, 2015 (N=17,699; male [40.6%], female [59.4%]).

Results: The AUDIT demonstrated moderate stability (intraclass correlation=0.56, 95% confidence interval: 0.52-0.60). In a multiple regression predicting the (absolute) difference between the two AUDIT scores, the participants' age was highly significant, t(1,092)=6.23, p<0.001. Younger participants clearly showed less stability than their older counterparts. Results are limited/biased by the observational nature of the study design and the use of clinical service data.

Conclusion: The present findings contribute to the literature by demonstrating that the AUDIT changes are moderately dependable from Visit 1 to Visit 2 while taking into account patient drinking behavior variability. It is important to know the stability of the AUDIT for continued use in Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment programming.

Keywords: SBIRT; alcohol use; heavy drinking; measurement; service data.