Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 26, Issue 7, pp 777–782 | Cite as

Alcohol Screening Scores and the Risk of New-Onset Gastrointestinal Illness or Related Hospitalization

  • Anna Lembke
  • Katharine A. Bradley
  • Patricia Henderson
  • Rudolf Moos
  • Alex H. S. Harris
Original Research



Excessive alcohol use is associated with a variety of negative health outcomes, including liver disease, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatitis.


To determine the 2-year risk of gastrointestinal-related hospitalization and new-onset gastrointestinal illness based on alcohol screening scores.


Retrospective cohort study.


Male (N = 215, 924) and female (N = 9,168) outpatients who returned mailed questionnaires and were followed for 24 months.


Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test—Consumption Questionnaire (AUDIT-C), a validated three-item alcohol screening questionnaire (0–12 points).


Two-year risk of hospitalization with a gastrointestinal disorder was increased in men with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 and 9–12 (OR 1.54, 95% CI = 1.27–1.86; and OR 3.27; 95% CI = 2.62–4.09 respectively), and women with AUDIT-C scores of 9–12 (OR 6.84, 95% CI = 1.85 – 25.37). Men with AUDIT-C scores of 5–8 and 9–12 had increased risk of new-onset liver disease (OR 1.49, 95% CI = 1.30–1.71; and OR 2.82, 95% CI = 2.38–3.34 respectively), and new-onset of upper gastrointestinal bleeding (OR 1.28, 95% CI = 1.05–1.57; and OR 2.14, 95% CI = 1.54-2.97 respectively). Two-year risk of new-onset pancreatitis in men with AUDIT -C scores 9–12 was also increased (OR 2.14; 95% CI = 1.54–2.97).


Excessive alcohol use as determined by AUDIT-C is associated with 2-year increased risk of gastrointestinal-related hospitalization in men and women and new-onset liver disease, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatitis in men. These results provide risk information that clinicians can use in evidence-based conversations with patients about their alcohol consumption.


alcohol AUDIT gastrointestinal hospitalization new-onset women 



This paper does not necessarily represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Stanford University, or University of Washington. This work was made possible through a grant from NIAAA (R03 AA016793-01) and support from the VA Office of Quality and Performance.

Conflict of Interest

None disclosed.

Supplementary material

11606_2011_1688_MOESM1_ESM.doc (112 kb)
Appendix A and B (DOC 112 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Lembke
    • 1
  • Katharine A. Bradley
    • 2
  • Patricia Henderson
    • 3
  • Rudolf Moos
    • 3
  • Alex H. S. Harris
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryStanford University School of MedicinePalo AltoUSA
  2. 2.Group Health Research Institute, Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D) Northwest Center of Excellence, Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA; Departments of Medicine, Health ServicesGroup Health Cooperative; VA Puget Sound and University of WASeattleUSA
  3. 3.Center for Health Care EvaluationVA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of MedicinePalo AltoUSA

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