What is the reliability of biological measures for the detection of alcohol use disorders?

Updated: Nov 27, 2018
  • Author: Warren Thompson, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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Answer

In a population of psychiatric patients, research evidence has shown the usefulness of biological measures in the detection of alcohol use disorders when compared with patient self-report. A 2007 study of 486 consecutively admitted psychiatric patients showed a low correlation between self-reported consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs and biological measures; 52% of the patients underreported their consumption of illicit drugs when compared with urine toxicology screening results; 56% of patients underreported alcohol use as evaluated by carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT), and 37% of patients underreported alcohol use as evaluated by CDT + gamma glutamyltransferase (GGT). [39] Replication of such research in a primary care population is needed to show that biological measures aid the primary care clinician in detecting alcohol use disorders.


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