Questionnaire vs. Blood Test: Which Better Predicts At-Risk Drinkers?

Questionnaire vs. Blood Test: Which Better Predicts At-Risk Drinkers?
Questionnaire vs. Blood Test: Which Better Predicts At-Risk Drinkers?

A 10-point questionnaire may be a better identifier of patients at risk of future drinking-related trauma than a blood alcohol content test, findings from a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association have shown.

Previous research has shown that ≥10% of trauma patients that have alcohol in their bloodstream at time of admission will present again to the same hospital within a year. Future trauma visits can be cut in half with brief interventions with these patients. The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), developed by the World Health Organization, addresses at-risk drinking behavior by evaluating alcohol consumption, drinking behaviors, and alcohol-related problems.

Researchers from Loyola University Medical Center conducted a retrospective cohort study that reviewed 222 records of patients ≥18 years admitted to the Center's level I trauma center between May 2013 and June 2014. The patients' records were included if both the AUDIT score and the blood alcohol level result were on file. At-risk drinking was defined as a blood alcohol level >0g/dL and and AUDIT score ≥8.

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Study authors found that AUDIT was 20% more effective than measuring blood alcohol level to detect patients with at-risk drinking behaviors resulting in future emergency room visits. The AUDIT score was able to identify at-risk drinking with 83% sensitivity and 81% specificity. They concluded that the utility of routine blood alcohol levels in trauma patients as a means to screen for at-risk drinking should be re-examined.

For more information visit JAOA.org.

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