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Association between Alcoholism Family History and Alcohol Screening Scores among Alcohol-dependent Patients

Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience
Korean College of Neuropsychopharmacology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.9758/cpn.2013.11.2.89
  • Original Article
  • Medicine
  • Psychology


Objective Several tests can be used to screen for alcohol dependence (AD), a prevalent disease with a heterogeneous etiology. As some patients with AD have a strong familial tendency in this regard, a family history of alcohol use disorders can affect the outcomes of screening tests and diagnostic evaluations for AD. In this study, we evaluated associations between a family history of alcohol use disorders and evaluations using the Cut down, Annoyed, Guilty, Eye-opener (CAGE) test, Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT), and Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-fourth edition (DSM-IV) diagnostic criteria among patients with AD. Methods We recruited 487 male patients with AD from eight hospitals in Korea. Patients were evaluated using the CAGE, AUDIT, and DSM-IV diagnostic criteria. Patients with and without family histories were compared in terms of these assessment tools. Results Drinking initiation, uncontrollable drinking, and problem drinking occurred earlier and CAGE "annoyed" scores were higher in patients with a family history. Alcohol problems before the age of 25 years, frequency of spontaneous or compulsive alcohol-seeking behavior, and frequencies of psychological dependence and guilt related to alcohol use were also higher. Conclusion Earlier drinking problems, higher scores on specific items of the CAGE, and AUDIT, and meeting more diagnostic criteria indicate more dependent, harmful drinking by patients with AD who have a family history of this condition. Clinicians should consider patients' family history of alcohol use disorders when screening for AD to identify the correct diagnosis and develop appropriate treatment plans for these patients.

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