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Opportunistic screening for alcohol use problems in adolescents attending emergency departments: an evaluation of screening tools

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Eilish Gilvarry, Professor Eileen KanerORCiD, Dr Ellen Lynch, Dr Paul McArdle, Dr Ruth McGovernORCiD, Professor Dorothy Newbury-Birch



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Faculty of Public Health. OBJECTIVE: To estimate and compare the optimal cut-off score of Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and AUDIT-C in identifying at-risk alcohol consumption, heavy episodic alcohol use, ICD-10 alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence in adolescents attending ED in England. DESIGN: Opportunistic cross-sectional survey. SETTING: 10 emergency departments across England. PARTICIPANTS: Adolescents (n = 5377) aged between their 10th and 18th birthday who attended emergency departments between December 2012 and May 2013. MEASURES: Scores on the AUDIT and AUDIT-C. At-risk alcohol consumption and monthly episodic alcohol consumption in the past 3 months were derived using the time-line follow back method. Alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence was assessed in accordance with ICD-10 criteria using the MINI-KID. FINDINGS: AUDIT-C with a score of 3 was more effective for at-risk alcohol use (AUC 0.81; sensitivity 87%, specificity 97%), heavy episodic use (0.84; 76%, 98%) and alcohol abuse (0.98; 91%, 90%). AUDIT with a score of 7 was more effective in identifying alcohol dependence (0.92; 96%, 94%). CONCLUSIONS: The 3-item AUDIT-C is more effective than AUDIT in screening adolescents for at-risk alcohol use, heavy episodic alcohol use and alcohol abuse. AUDIT is more effective than AUDIT-C for the identification of alcohol dependence.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coulton S, Alam MF, Boniface S, Deluca P, Donoghue K, Gilvarry E, Kaner E, Lynch E, Maconochie I, McArdle P, McGovern R, Newbury-Birch D, Patton R, Phillips CJ, Phillips T, Rose H, Russell I, Strang J, Drummond C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Public Health

Year: 2019

Volume: 41

Issue: 1

Pages: e53-e60

Print publication date: 01/03/2019

Online publication date: 26/03/2018

Acceptance date: 28/02/2018

Date deposited: 07/05/2019

ISSN (print): 1741-3842

ISSN (electronic): 1741-3850

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdy049

PubMed id: 29590416


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