Comparing Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) with Timeline Follow Back (TLFB), DSM-5 and Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) for the assessment of alcohol misuse among young people in Ugandan fishing communities

Addict Behav Rep. 2019 Nov 11:10:100233. doi: 10.1016/j.abrep.2019.100233. eCollection 2019 Dec.


Background: Validated tools for assessing alcohol use among young people in low-income countries are needed to estimate prevalence and evaluate alcohol-reduction interventions. We validated Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) against Timeline Follow Back (TLFB), Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and phosphatidylethanol (PEth); and the 30-day-AUDIT against the 12-months-AUDIT among young Ugandans.

Methods: In 2018, we collected retrospective data on 30-day and 12-month AUDIT, TLFB and DSM-5 in a cross-sectional study of 15-24 year old residents of Ugandan fishing communities. AUDIT was administered by Audio Computer Assisted Self-Interviewing (ACASI) and DSM-5 and TLFB by psychiatric nurses. We determined PEth16:0/18:1 levels from dried blood spots using liquid chromatography tandem-mass spectrometry (heavy usage, ≥210 ng/mL) and calculated sensitivity and specificity of AUDIT against the other measures.

Results: Among 1281 participants (52.7% male, mean age 20 years), half (n = 659; 51.4%) reported ever drinking alcohol, 19.4% had 12-month-AUDIT ≥ 8 (21.5% men; 17.0% women), and 24.2% had 30-day-AUDIT ≥ 8 (29.0% men; 18.9% women). Twenty percent of participants had detectable PEth with 55 (4.3%) classified as heavy drinkers; 50.7% reported ≥ 2 symptoms on DSM-5 and 6.3% reported binge drinking in the previous month based on TLFB (8.9% men, 3.5% women). The 30-day-AUDIT ≥ 8 had sensitivity 86.7%, 95%CI: 81.8%-90.7% and specificity 90.9%, 95%CI:89.0%-92.6% versus 12-month-AUDIT ≥ 8. Both 30-day and 12-month-AUDIT ≥ 8 were sensitive and specific markers of heavy drinking by PEth (12-month-AUDIT sensitivity = 80.0%; 95%CI:67.0%-89.6%; specificity = 83.3%; 95%CI:81.1%-85.3%). The 30-day-AUDIT was a sensitive and specific marker of binge drinking based on TLFB (sensitivity = 82.7%; 95%CI:72.7%-90.2%, specificity = 79.8%; 95%CI:77.4%-82.1%); 12-month-AUDIT had lower sensitivity. Both 30-day and 12-month AUDIT ≥ 8 were highly specific but insensitive markers of having DSM-5 ≥ 2 symptoms.

Conclusion: Among young people in Uganda, ACASI-administered 30-day and 12-month-AUDIT have good diagnostic properties compared to PEth, DSM-5 and TLFB. Self-reported AUDIT provides a quick and valid means of assessing alcohol misuse in these communities.