PatientPlus articles are written by UK doctors and are based on research evidence, UK and European Guidelines. They are designed for health professionals to use, so you may find the language more technical than the condition leaflets.
This easy-to-use patient questionnaire is a screening test for problem drinking and potential alcohol problems. The CAGE questions should not be preceded by any questions about alcohol intake - ie its sensitivity is dramatically enhanced by an open-ended introduction.
Developed by Dr. John Ewing, founding Director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CAGE is an internationally used assessment instrument for identifying alcoholics. The CAGE questionnaire is reproduced here with permission. Original in Ewing JA; Detecting alcoholism. The CAGE questionnaire. JAMA. 1984 Oct 12;252(14):1905-7. © 1984 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
A total score of 2 or greater is considered clinically significant (sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 76% for the identification of problem drinking); compared with GGT liver function test which detected only a third of patients having more than 16 'drinks' per day.
Further reading & references
- Ewing JA; Detecting alcoholism. The CAGE questionnaire. JAMA. 1984 Oct 12;252(14):1905-7.
- Steinweg DL, Worth H; Alcoholism: the keys to the CAGE. Am J Med. 1993 May;94(5):520-3.
- Bernadt MW, Mumford J, Taylor C, et al; Comparison of questionnaire and laboratory tests in the detection of excessive drinking and alcoholism. Lancet. 1982 Feb 6;1(8267):325-8.
- The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test - Guidelines for Use in Primary Care, 2nd Edition; World Health Organization
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Huw Thomas
Dr Hayley Willacy
Dr Colin Tidy