[Screening for problem alcohol drinking in the Swiss population: comparison between an ISPA-developed instrument and the CAGE questionnaire. The Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcoholism]

Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1997 May 3;127(18):753-61.
[Article in French]


In 1987, the Swiss Institute for the Prevention of Alcohol and Drug Problems (SIPA) developed a set of questions on alcohol-related problems in the general population. The aim of this article is to study the results of the questionnaire used as a screening instrument to detect problem drinking in the Swiss population, and to compare it with the CAGE test. The sample consisted of 953 people aged 20 or over. Among the drinkers (89% of the sample), 91 males (21.7%) and 34 females (8.7%) had a positive SIPA test and 53 males (12.7%) and 17 females (4.3%) a positive CAGE test. The SIPA test was more sensitive than the CAGE in detecting persons who drink regularly and quite heavily but without binge drinking. The item "Eye-opener" of the CAGE is too blunt for application to the Swiss general population and could with advantage be removed from the questionnaire. Females tend to deny alcohol problems much more than males. Binge drinking increases the risk of a positive test (SIPA: OR: 1.9; i.c. 95%: 1.2-3.0; CAGE: OR: 3.3; i.c. 95%: 1.8-6.0). In short, the SIPA test is more suitable in estimating the number of problem drinkers in the Swiss population than the CAGE, which was initially developed for the American medical population. Furthermore, the results suggest the necessity of using a different cut-off for each gender.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • English Abstract
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Alcoholism / ethnology
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Population Surveillance
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Switzerland / epidemiology