Air Force web-based preventive health assessement alcohol screening effectiveness using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tool (AUDIT)

Justin J Tingey, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Alcohol consumption has a long-standing tradition in the United States Air Force (USAF). From squadron bars to officers and enlisted clubs, alcohol has been used in social settings to increase morale and also as a way to help decrease the stress of military operations. Surveys have demonstrated that the USAF has more than double the percentage of heavy drinkers than the US population. More than one-third of the Air Force reports binge drinking in the last month while only six percent of the nation reports the same consumption pattern. However, alcohol has a significant harmful health effect if consumed in excess. As part of an overall prevention and treatment program aimed at curbing the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, the USAF uses the Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) to screen for high-risk alcohol consumption patterns before alcohol disorder and disability occur. All Air Force active-duty members are required to complete a yearly Preventive Health Assessment questionnaire. Various health topics are included in this questionnaire including nutrition, exercise, tobacco use, family history, mental health and alcohol use. While this questionnaire has been available in a web-based format for several years, mandatory use was not implemented until 2009. Although the AUDIT was selected due to its effectiveness in assessing high-risk alcohol consumption in other populations, its effectiveness in the Air Force population had not been studied previously. In order to assess the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value of this screening tool, the Air Force Web-based Preventive Health Assessment alcohol screening results were compared to whether any alcohol-related diagnosis was made from January 1, 2009 to March 31, 2010. While the AUDIT has previously been shown to have a high sensitivity and specificity, the Air Force screening values were 27.9% and 93.0% respectively. Positive predictive value was only 4.9%. With the screening statistics found, less than one-third of those having an alcohol disorder will be found with this screening tool and only 1 out of 20 Airmen who require further evaluation actually have an alcohol-related diagnosis.

Subject Area

Mental health|Behavioral Sciences|Clinical psychology|Military studies

Recommended Citation

Tingey, Justin J, "Air Force web-based preventive health assessement alcohol screening effectiveness using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Tool (AUDIT)" (2010). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1479395.