What are the limitations of the CAGE questionnaire for alcohol misuse screening?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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The CAGE questions are not useful for diagnosing hazardous drinking. Women should consume no more than 3 standard alcohol drinks on any one occasion and no more than 7 drinks per week [25] and men younger than 65 years should consume no more than 4 drinks on any one occasion and no more than 13 standards drinks per week. Men older than 65 years should follow recommendations for women. Other drinking considered hazardous is any use of alcohol by children, teens, by those with a personal or family history of alcohol dependence, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and use before or during situations requiring attention or skill (e.g., driving)

By itself, the CAGE questionnaire is not an adequate screening for alcohol problems.The CAGE questionnaire is less reliable when given after asking questions on frequency. If the patient answers questions on the CAGE questionnaire or AUDIT affirmatively, following up with additional questions about circumstances and reasons is important. Additional useful questions are found below (see Additional questions).


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