Three questions can detect hazardous drinkers

A. J. Gordon, S. A. Maisto, M. McNeil, K. L. Kraemer, R. L. Conigliaro, M. E. Kelley, J. Conigliaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

201 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: We evaluated the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the first 3 questions of the AUDIT (AUDIT-C), the third AUDIT question (AUDIT-3), and quantity-frequency questions for identifying hazardous drinkers in a large primary care sample. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. POPULATION: Patients waiting for care at 12 primary care sites in western Pennsylvania from October 1995 to December 1997. OUTCOMES MEASURED: Sensitivity, specificity, likelihood ratios, and predictive values for the AUDIT, AUDIT-C, and AUDIT-3. RESULTS: A total of 13,438 patients were surveyed. Compared with a quantity-frequency definition of hazardous drinking (≥16 drinks/week for men and ≥12 drinks/week for women), the AUDIT, AUDIT-C, and AUDIT-3 had areas under the receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUROC) of 0.940, 0.949, and 0.871, respectively. The AUROCs of the AUDIT and AUDIT-C were significantly different (P=.004). The AUROCs of the AUDIT-C (P <.001) and AUDIT (P <.001) were significantly larger than the AUDIT-3. When compared with a positive AUDIT score of 8 or higher, the AUDIT-C (score ≥3) and the AUDIT-3 (score ≥1) were 94.9% and 99.6% sensitive and 68.8% and 51.1% specific in detecting individuals as hazardous drinkers. CONCLUSIONS: In a large primary care sample, a 3-question version of the AUDIT identified hazardous drinkers as well as the full AUDIT when such drinkers were defined by quantity-frequency criterion. This version of the AUDIT may be useful as an initial screen for assessing hazardous drinking behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)313-320
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Family Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Alcoholism
  • Mass screening
  • Questionnaires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice


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