Objectives: There is a paucity of data concerning the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and binge drinking in the general hospital adult population in Ireland. We therefore examined the point-prevalence of alcohol use disorders and of binge drinking in the adult inpatient population of the acute wards of an Irish university teaching hospital. The secondary aim was to examine gender, age, and patient group (medical/surgical) as risk factors.
Method: We administered the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to all consenting patients (n = 126) on the acute adult medical and surgical wards over one day.
Results: 76% of all inpatients on the acute medical and surgical wards were interviewed (n = 126) using the AUDIT.
Of the subjects 28% screened positive for an alcohol use disorder. Of these 91% were identified as binge drinkers.
A further 8% of the subjects screened positive for binge drinking but were not identified as having an alcohol use disorder.
Overall, 36% of the subjects screened positive for either an alcohol use disorder and/or for binge drinking using the AUDIT.
Male gender and under 65s were risk factors for both alcohol use disorders and binge drinking.
Conclusions: The high point-prevalences of alcohol use disorders and binge drinking in hospital inpatients in particular are a cause for concern as they may have illness complicated by or secondary to undiagnosed alcohol excess. As this population is an easily accessible group for screening, and clinical and economic evidence supports intervention, we recommend screening all acute hospital admissions for alcohol use disorders and binge drinking, followed by appropriate management.