Aims To describe trends of responses to the Cut-down, Annoyed, Guilt, Eye-opener (CAGE) questionnaire during a period of declining alcohol consumption, in a country with no temperance history.
Design Two random-sample surveys, conducted in 1991 and 2005, respectively.
Setting The adult population of Ile-de-France.
Participants A total of 1183 subjects in 1991 and 5382 subjects in 2005.
Measurements Responses to CAGE questions, obtained by face-to-face interviews in 1991 and by telephone in 2005. Results were standardized on the 2005 population structure.
Findings The proportion of subjects giving at least two positive answers has increased by 4.2 times; the biggest increase was observed for the Guilt question (4.8 times) and the smallest for the Eye-opener question (2.6 times). Several increases were higher for women than for men: 12.9 times versus 3.3 times for two or more positive answers, 9.8 times versus 3.8 times for the Guilt question. Increases did not vary consistently by age.
Conclusion These paradoxical trends do not support the use of CAGE in general population surveys. They confirm previous reports suggesting that CAGE was sensitive to community temperance level. They might reflect the emergence of a temperance movement in France, with stronger impact among women. This movement might be responsible for the fall in alcohol consumption.