Point prevalence of alcoholism in hospitalized patients: Continuing challenges of detection, assessment, and diagnosis

Terry D. Schneekloth, Robert M. Morse, Linda M. Herrick, Vera J. Suman, Kenneth P. Offord, Leo J. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


• Objective: To measure a 1-day point prevalence of alcohol dependence among hospitalized patients and to assess practices of detection, evaluation, and diagnosis of alcohol problems. • Patients and Methods: On April 27, 1994, a total of 795 adult inpatients at 2 midwestern teaching hospitals were asked to complete a survey that included the Self-administered Alcoholism Screening Test (SAAST). The records of SAAST-positive patients were reviewed to determine the numbers of patients receiving laboratory screening for alcoholism, addiction consultative services, and a discharge diagnosis of alcoholism. • Results: The survey response rate was 84% (667/795). Of the 569 patients who provided SAAST information, 42 (7.4%) had a positive SAAST score and thus were identified as alcohol dependent. Thirteen (31%) of the 42 alcoholic patients received addiction or psychiatric consultative services during their hospitalization. Serum γ-glutamyltransferase was measured in 4 (11%) of the 38 actively drinking alcoholic patients. Three (7%) of 42 alcoholic patients received a discharge diagnosis of alcohol abuse or dependence. • Conclusions: The alcoholism prevalence rate was lower than those observed in several other US hospitals. Laboratory testing may be underutilized in identifying hospitalized patients who may be addicted to alcohol. Physician use of consultative services and diagnosis of alcohol dependence had not improved from similar observations more than 20 years earlier. These findings may indicate persistent problems in physician detection, assessment, and diagnosis of alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number62911
Pages (from-to)460-466
Number of pages7
JournalMayo Clinic Proceedings
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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