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Comparing short versions of the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) in a military cohort
  1. Jason Watterson1,2,3,4,
  2. B Gabbe1,
  3. P Dietze1,5,
  4. A Bowring5,6 and
  5. J V Rosenfeld7,8,9
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 National Trauma Research Institute, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Royal Australian Navy, Canberra, Victoria, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Intensive Care and Hyperbaric Medicine, Alfred Health, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  5. 5 Behaviours and Health Risks Programs, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  6. 6 Department of Epidemiology, John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
  7. 7 Department of Neurosurgery, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  8. 8 Australian Army, Canberra, Victoria, Australia
  9. 9 Department of Surgery, F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland, USA
  1. Correspondence to Jason Watterson, Alfred Hospital, Melbourne 3004, Victoria, Australia; jason.watterson{at}


Background The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) is widely used for monitoring harmful alcohol consumption among high-risk populations. A number of short versions of AUDIT have been developed for use in time-constrained settings. In military populations, a range of AUDIT variations have been used, but the optimal combination of AUDIT items has not been determined.

Methods A total of 952 participants (80% male), recruited as part of a wider study, completed the AUDIT-10. We systematically assessed all possible combinations of three or four AUDIT items and established AUDIT variations using the following statistics: Cronbach’s alpha (internal consistency), variance explained (R2) and Pearson’s correlation coefficient (concurrent validity).

Results Median AUDIT-10 score was 7 for males and 6 for females, and 380 (40%) participants were classified as having a score indicative of harmful or hazardous alcohol use (≥8) according to WHO classifications.

A novel four-item AUDIT variation (3, 4, 8 and 9) performed consistently higher than established variations across statistical measures; it explained 85% of variance in AUDIT-10, had a Pearson’s correlation of 0.92 and Cronbach’s alpha was 0.63. The FAST, an established shortened AUDIT variant, together with several other four-item novel variants of AUDIT-10 performed similarly. The AUDIT-C performed consistently low on all measures, but with a satisfactory level of internal consistency (75%).

Conclusion Shortened AUDIT variations may be suitable alternatives to the full AUDIT for screening hazardous alcohol consumption in military populations. Four-item AUDIT variations focused on short-term risky drinking and its consequences performed better than three item versions.

Trial registration number ACTRN12614001332617.

  • alcohol screening
  • Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)
  • alcohol consumption
  • military personal
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  • Contributors JW, BG, PD and AB designed the study. JW wrote the first draft of this paper. BG and PD revised the first draft and all authors contributed to successive drafts. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This project was funded by a Defence Health Foundation grant. BG was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia Career Development Fellowship (GNT1048731) during the preparation of this manuscript.

  • Declarations of competing interest JW, BG, AB and JVR declare that they have no competing interests. PD has received an untied educational grant from Reckitt Benckinser and an investigator-driven grant from Gilead Sciences for work unrelated to this paper.

  • Ethics approval Departments of Defence and Veterans' Affairs HREC, Alfred Health HREC and Monash University HREC.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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