Abstract: Background: Early identification of alcohol use disorders (AUD) among emergency department (ED)-treated patients is important for facilitating intervention and further evaluation outside EDs. A number of brief screening instruments have been developed for identifying patients with AUD, but it is not clear whether they are practical and perform well with older adolescents in an ED setting. This study contrasted four brief screening instruments for detecting DSM-IV–defined AUD and tested a newly developed brief screen for use among ED-treated older adolescents.
Methods: The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT), the CAGE, the CRAFFT, and a modified RAPS-QF were given to 93 alcohol-using older adolescents (55% men; aged 18–20 years) in an ED. Receiver operator characteristic analyses were used to evaluate the performance of brief screens against the criterion of a lifetime DSM-IV alcohol abuse or dependence diagnosis.
Results: Of existing instruments, the AUDIT had the best overall performance in identifying AUD (sensitivity, 82%; specificity, 78%). A new, shorter screening instrument composed of two AUDIT items, two CRAFFT items, and one CAGE item (RUFT-Cut) performed as well as the AUDIT (sensitivity, 82%; specificity, 78%).
Conclusions: Among existing alcohol screening instruments, the AUDIT performed best for identifying ED-treated older adolescents with alcohol use disorders. The RUFT-Cut is a brief screening instrument for AUD that shows promise for identifying ED-treated older adolescents who are in need of intervention or further evaluation. Future research should focus on use of the RUFT-Cut in other settings with larger, more diverse samples of adolescents.