BACKGROUND: Hazardous drinking among students in higher education is a growing concern. The alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT) is the gold standard screening instrument for hazardous drinking in the adult population, for which an abbreviated version has been developed: the -AUDIT-Consumption (AUDIT-C). Currently, there's no gold standard for identifying hazardous drinking among students in higher education and little evidence regarding the concurrent validity of the AUDIT-C as a screening instrument for this group. This study investigated the concurrent validity of the AUDIT-C in a sample of university students and suggests the most appropriate cutoff points.
METHODS: Cross-sectional data of health surveys from 5,401 university and university of applied sciences in the Netherlands were used. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values for different cutoff scores of AUDIT-C were calculated for the total sample and for subgroups stratified by age, gender, and educational level. AUDIT-score ≥11 was used as the criterion of hazardous and harmful drinking.
RESULTS: Twenty percent of students were hazardous and harmful drinkers. The area under the ROC curve was 0.922 (95% CI 0.914-0.930). At an AUDIT-C cutoff score of ≥7, sensitivity and specificity were both >80%, while other cutoffs showed less balanced results. A cutoff of ≥8 performed better among males, but for other subgroups ≥7 was most suitable.
CONCLUSION: AUDIT-C seems valid in identifying hazardous and harmful drinking students, with suggested optimal cutoffs 7 (females) or 8 (males). However, considerations regarding avoiding false-positives versus false-negatives, in relation to the type of intervention following screening, could lead to selecting different cutoffs.
Bibliographical note© 2019 The Author(s) Published by S. Karger AG, Basel.
- Alcohol use disorders identification test-consumption
- Alcohol use screening
- Concurrent validity
- Hazardous alcohol use
- University students