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J Stud Alcohol. 1998 Nov;59(6):698-703.

Screening questionnaires in the detection of hazardous alcohol consumption in the general hospital: direct or disguised assessment?

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of L├╝beck, Federal Republic of Germany.



The aim of this study was to compare the validity of two direct screening questionnaires, the CAGE and MAST, in the detection of hazardous alcohol consumption with a disguised assessment by using the Trauma Scale in a poststratified general hospital sample.


Surgical and medical inpatients (N = 1,379) completed the three questionnaires. Hazardous alcohol consumption was defined by criteria derived from a World Health Organization study and assessed using self-reported quantity and frequency.


The sensitivity of the Trauma Scale was not significantly different compared to the CAGE and MAST, whereas the direct questionnaires were higher in specificity and overall accuracy (p < .0001). In male surgical patients the detection rate of the Trauma Scale was higher compared to the CAGE (p < .05). Thirteen percent of subjects with hazardous levels of alcohol consumption were detected by the Trauma Scale only. In female surgical patients, the Trauma Scale, when used as an additional tool, does not improve the detection of hazardous drinkers.


Because of the low specificity, indirect assessment using a history of trauma cannot be recommended as a screening instrument in a general hospital setting. Despite a high number of false positives, the Trauma Scale may serve as an additional tool in conjunction with direct questionnaires when high sensitivity is desired.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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