Updated: Sep 9
Study findings reveal parallel results for alcohol consumption and depression screenings completed in primary care
The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test-Consumption version (AUDIT-C) has been robustly validated as a point-in-time screen for unhealthy alcohol use, but less is known about the significance of changes in AUDIT-C scores from routine screenings over time. Unhealthy alcohol use and depression commonly co-occur, and changes in drinking often co-occur with changes in depression symptoms. We assess the associations between changes in AUDIT-C scores and changes in depression symptoms reported on brief screens completed in routine care.
The study sample included 198,335 primary care patients who completed two AUDIT-C screens 11 to 24 months apart and the Patient Health Questionnaire-2 (PHQ-2) depression screen on the same day as each AUDIT-C. Both screening measures were completed as part of routine care within a large health system in Washington state. AUDIT-C scores were categorized to reflect five drinking levels at both time points, resulting in 25 subgroups with different change patterns. For each of the 25 subgroups, within-group changes in the prevalence of positive PHQ-2 depression screens were characterized using risk ratios (RRs) and McNemar's tests.
Patient subgroups with increases in AUDIT-C risk categories generally experienced increases in the prevalence of positive depression screens (RRs ranging from 0.95 to 2.00). Patient subgroups with decreases in AUDIT-C risk categories generally experienced decreases in the prevalence of positive depression screens (RRs ranging from 0.52 to 1.01). Patient subgroups that did not have changes in AUDIT-C risk categories experienced little or no change in the prevalence of positive depression screens (RRs ranging from 0.98 to 1.15).
As hypothesized, changes in alcohol consumption reported on AUDIT-C screens completed in routine care were associated with changes in depression screening results. Results support the validity and clinical utility of monitoring changes in AUDIT-C scores over time as a meaningful measure of changes in drinking.
Source: Kevin A. Hallgren, Ph.D. Wiley Online, https://doi.org/10.1111/acer.15075
Veterans Affairs, https://www.hepatitis.va.gov/alcohol/treatment/audit-c.asp#S2X