The AUDIT alcohol consumption questions: reliability, validity, and responsiveness to change in older male primary care patients

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Nov;22(8):1842-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1998.tb03991.x.


Objectives: To determine the reliability, validity, and responsiveness to change of AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test) questions 1 to 3 about alcohol consumption in a primary care setting.

Patients: Randomly selected, male general medical patients (n = 441) from three VA Medical Centers, who had 5 or more drinks containing alcohol in the past year and were willing to be interviewed about their health habits.

Measures: Three self-administered AUDIT consumption questions were compared with a telephone-administered version of the trilevel World Health Organization interview about alcohol consumption.

Results: Of 393 eligible patients, 264 (67%) completed interviews. Test-retest reliability--Correlations between baseline and repeat measures 3 months later for four dimensions of consumption according to the AUDIT, ranged from 0.65 to 0.85, among patients who indicated they had not changed their drinking (Kendall's Tau-b). Criterion validity--Correlations between AUDIT and interview for four dimensions of alcohol consumption ranged from 0.47 to 0.66 (Kendall's Tau-b). Discriminative validity--The AUDIT questions were specific (90 to 93%), but only moderately sensitive (54 to 79%), for corresponding criteria for heavy drinking. Responsiveness to change--The AUDIT consumption questions had a Guyatt responsiveness statistic of 1.04 for detecting a change of 7 drinks/week, suggesting excellent responsiveness to change.

Conclusions: AUDIT questions 1 to 3 demonstrate moderate to good validity, but excellent reliability and responsiveness to change. Although they often underestimate heavy alcohol consumption according to interview, they performed adequately to be used as a proxy measure of consumption in a clinical trial of heavy drinkers in this population.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholism / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Assessment / statistics & numerical data*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Virginia / epidemiology