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Physician Tests for Alcoholism Ineffective for Women, Minorities

Two popular questionnaires that doctors use to diagnose alcoholism may be biased against women and minorities.

A report published by the Annals of Internal Medicine contends that the two questionnaires are based on symptoms of alcoholism commonly experienced by white men and frequently fail to diagnose alcohol abuse in women and minorities.

Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston tested the effectiveness of three frequently-used questionnaires among 1,333 women and racial and ethnic minorities. Researchers also conducted in-depth, structured interviews with their research subjects. The three questionnaires tested included the Self-Administered Alcoholism Screening Test (SAAST), the CAGE questionnaire, and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).

Researchers then compared the results of the 3 questionnaires with interview results and found that AUDIT was the only questionnaire to accurately diagnose alcoholism in women and minorities. “For African-American men, white women, and Mexican-American patients, the CAGE questionnaire and the SAAST showed poor discrimination identifying patients with an alcohol use disorder,” wrote study authors.

Sources:

Reuters - August 31, 1998

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