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Bradley KA, Maynard C, Kivlahan DR, McDonell MB, Fihn SD. The relationship between alcohol screening questionnaires and mortality among male veteran outpatients. Journal of Studies On Alcohol. 2001 Nov 1; 62(6):826-33.
OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated whether responses to alcohol screening questionnaires predicted mortality in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) primary care population. METHOD: This study involved 5,703 male outpatients (mean age = 64) who were enrolled in General Internal Medicine clinics at three Veterans Affairs (VA) medical centers and returned mailed questionnaires in 1993-94. The two questionnaires included the CAGE and Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) alcohol screening tests. Mortality was ascertained using the VA Beneficiary Identification and Record Locator System. Five-year crude and adjusted mortality rates were calculated for patients who screened positive and patients who screened negative on each alcohol screening test. RESULTS: The risk of mortality was increased among drinkers who scored > or = 8 on the full AUDIT (hazard ratio: 1.47; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.08-2.00) or the three AUDIT consumption questions (1.58; 1.11-2.27), after adjusting for age, smoking, sociodemographic characteristics and chronic illnesses. The risk of mortality was also increased among drinkers who reported drinking > or = 3 drinks daily (1.69; 1.28-2.22) or prior alcohol treatment (1.66; 1.27-2.17), in "fully adjusted" models. A positive CAGE score ( > or = 2) was associated with significantly increased risk of mortality among drinkers in a model adjusted only for age and smoking (1.27; 1.02-1.58). Among nondrinkers, neither a positive CAGE score ( > or = 2) nor report of prior alcohol treatment was associated with increased risk of mortality. CONCLUSIONS: VA outpatients who reported drinking during the previous year and who had a positive result on an alcohol screening test experienced higher mortality over the subsequent 5 years than did patients who screened negative.