In an Irish general hospital 82 admissions were given the MAST questionnaire and 331 patients were given the CAGE questionnaire for alcoholism. Of those who were given the CAGE 67 scored 1.0 or more, (maximum socre: 4.0), and 36 scored 2.0 or more, denoting a prevalence of probable alcoholism in this population of 11%.
Of those scoring 3.0 or 4.0 on the CAGE, 38% of males and 100% of females claimed to have abstained from alcohol for at least one year and 54% and 100% respectively had a heavily drinking relative.
Twenty-three per cent of patients tested with the CAGE and MAST questionnaires claimed never to have drunk alcohol.
The number of patients diagnosed in the medical charts as having an alcohol problem was fewer than those detected by the CAGE questionnaire. It is suggested that the CAGE questionnaire may be a simple and efficient way of detecting excess alcohol consumption in a general hospital population.