Alcoholism Screening Test for Problem Drinking

Scoring Alcoholism Test

Questions 1-8 are scored 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4.
Questions 9 and 10 are scored 0, 2, or 4.
The maximum possible score is 40.
A score of 8 or more is suggestive of problem drinking.
For women, the cutoff point should be 4 or more.

Add up the points associated with your answers above. If your AUDIT score is 8 or above, take the results of this test and share them with your doctor.

More information on what is alcohol abuse and what is alcoholism

The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)

The following guidelines, questions, and scoring instructions are excerpted from Babor, T.F.; de la Fuente, J.R.; Saunders, J.; et al. AUDIT: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test: Guidelines for Use in Primary Health Care. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization, 1992.

How To Use AUDIT

Screening with AUDIT can be conducted in a variety of primary care settings by persons who have different kinds of training and professional backgrounds. The core AUDIT is designed to be used as a brief structured interview or self-report survey. It can easily be incorporated into a general health interview, lifestyle questionnaire, or medical history. When the questions are presented in this context by a concerned and interested interviewer, few patients will be offended.

The experience of the WHO collaborating investigators1 indicated that AUDIT questions were answered accurately regardless of cultural background, age, or gender. In fact, many patients who drank heavily were pleased to find that a health worker was interested in their use of alcohol and the problems associated with it.

With some patients, the AUDIT questions may not be answered accurately because they refer specifically to alcohol use and problems. Some patients may be reluctant to confront their alcohol use or to admit that it is causing them harm. Individuals who feel threatened by revealing this information to a health worker, who are intoxicated at the time of the interview, or who have certain kinds of mental impairment may give inaccurate responses. Patients tend to answer most accurately when:

  • The interviewer is friendly and nonthreatening
  • The purpose of the questions is clearly related to a diagnosis of their health status
  • The patient is alcohol- and drug-free at the time of the screening
  • The information is considered confidential
  • The questions are easy to understand

Health workers should try to establish these conditions before AUDIT is given. When these conditions are not present, the Clinical Screening Instrument following the AUDIT questionnaire may be more useful. If interviewing the patient is a problem, health workers may use AUDIT to guide an interview with a concerned friend, spouse, or family member. In some settings (such as waiting rooms), AUDIT may be administered as a self-report questionnaire, with instructions for the patient to discuss the results with the primary care worker.

In addition to these general considerations, the following interviewing techniques should be used:

  • Try to interview patients under the best possible circumstances. For patients needing emergency treatment or who are severely impaired, wait until their condition has stabilized. In addition, allow them to get used to the health setting where the interview is to take place.
  • Look for signs of alcohol or drug intoxication. Patients who have alcohol on their breath or who appear intoxicated may give inaccurate responses. Consider conducting the interview at a later time. If this is not possible, note these findings on the patient's record.
  • If AUDIT is embedded, as recommended, in a longer health interview, use a transitional statement to introduce the AUDIT questions. The best way is to give the patient a general idea of the content of the questions, the purpose for asking them, and the need for accurate answers.

    For example: "Now I am going to ask you some questions about your use of alcoholic beverages during the past year. Because alcohol use can affect many areas of health and may interfere with certain medications, we need to know how much you usually drink and whether you have experienced any problems with your drinking. Please try to be as honest and as accurate as you can."

    This statement should be followed by a description of the types of alcoholic beverages typically consumed in the population to which the patient belongs (e.g., "By alcoholic beverages we mean your use of wine, beer, vodka, sherry, and so on."). If necessary, include a description of beverages that may not be considered alcoholic (e.g., cider, low-alcohol beer).
  • It is important to read the questions as written and in the order indicated. By following the exact wording, you will obtain results more comparable to those obtained by other interviewers.
  • Most of the questions in AUDIT are phrased in terms of "how often" symptoms occur. It is useful to offer the patient several examples of the response categories (for example, "never," "several times a month," "daily") to suggest how he or she might answer. When he or she has responded, it is useful to probe during the initial questions to be sure that the patient has selected the most accurate response (for example, "You say you drink several times a week. Is this just on weekends or do you drink more or less everyday?").

    If responses are ambiguous or evasive, continue asking for clarification by repeating the question and the response options, asking the patient to choose the best one. At times, answers are difficult to record because the patient may not drink on a regular basis. For example, if the patient was drinking intensively for the month prior to an accident, but not before or since, then it will be difficult to characterize the "typical" drinking sought by the question. In these cases it is best to record the amount of drinking and related symptoms for the heaviest drinking period of the past year, noting that this may be atypical or transitory for that individual.

Record answers carefully, including comments to explain any special circumstances, additional information, or clinical inferences. Often patients will provide the interviewer with useful comments about their drinking that can be valuable in the interpretation of the total AUDIT score.

article references


next: How to Stop Drinking Alcohol
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Last Updated: 20 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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