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Journal Article


Cherpitel CJ. Alcohol Clin. Exp. Res. 1997; 21(8): 1391-1397.


Western Consortium for Public Health, Alcohol Research Group, Berkeley, CA 94709, USA.


(Copyright © 1997, John Wiley and Sons)






A number of brief screening instruments to identify alcohol dependence exist, but the validity of these instruments across ethnic groups or regions of the country is not well established. The sensitivity and specificity of a number of standard screening instruments (CAGE, brief MAST, AUDIT, TWEAK, and RAPS), as well as other measures (History of Trauma Scale, breathalyzer reading, self-reported drinking before the event, and consuming five or more drinks at a sitting at least monthly) are compared against ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria for alcohol dependence between probability samples of Black and White emergency room patients in Santa Clara County, CA (n = 716) and in Jackson, MS (n = 1330). Variability in the sensitivity of screening instruments among current drinkers was found to be greater between samples for both Blacks and Whites, than for Blacks compared with Whites within the same sample. The AUDIT, TWEAK, and RAPS seemed to perform well by gender and injury status for both Blacks and Whites in the two samples, and no significant differences were found in the performance of these instruments across sample sites. To evaluate the influence of regional differences in alcohol dependence on differences found in the performance of screening instruments, using logistic regression with the simultaneous entry of demographic variables (age, gender, ethnicity, injury status, and site) and drinking variables (breathalyzer reading, self-reported drinking before the event, and drinking five or more drinks at a sitting at least monthly) to predict alcohol dependence in a merged sample of these patients (Jackson vs. Santa Clara) site was not found to be significant. Data suggest that, whereas region of the country may not be important in predicting alcohol dependence in emergency room populations, regional differences in the performance of screening instruments for alcohol dependence may exist, even when ethnicity is taken into account. Given distinct regional differences in drinking patterns and problems in the U.S., further research on commonly used screening instruments is needed to determine those screeners most efficient for identifying problem drinking.

Language: en


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