Single screening question identifies unhealthy alcohol use

May 8, 2009

Researchers at Boston Medical Center have found that a single screening question accurately identifies unhealthy alcohol use in primary care patients.

Researchers at Boston Medical Center have found that a single screening question accurately identifies unhealthy alcohol use in primary care patients.

The question, recommended by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, is "How many times in the past year have you had X or more drinks in a day?" The variable X equates to five for men and four for women. Once in a year constitutes unhealthy alcohol use.

The study, which appears online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, showed that of the 286 study participants reviewed, the single-question screen was as accurate as a longer screening tool for the detection of unhealthy alcohol use.