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The relationship between alcohol screening questionnaires and mortality among male veteran outpatients.

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.

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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.

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