Aims: (i) To evaluate the prevalence of alcohol use disorders, and at risk-drinking among outpatients admitted to the Division of Psychiatry, University of Cagliari, Italy, for mood disorders, and (ii) to compare the sensitivity and specificity of the questionnaires used. Methods: Fifty-six patients affected by mood disorders answered to the questions of (i) The NIAAA Guide for identification of at-risk drinking, (ii) AUDIT questionnaire, (iii) The CAGE questionnaire and, (iv) SCID-I application forms for mood and alcohol use disorders. Results: Fourteen subjects (25%) met the criteria for alcohol use disorders according to SCID-I; 17 (30.4%) achieved a score 1 in CAGE questionnaire; 12 (21.4%) reached AUDIT scores of 8 and 4 for men and women, respectively; 12 (21.4%) provided positive answers to NIAAA Guide. Despite these prevalence rates, no diagnosis of alcohol use disorders had previously been registered in their medical records. The CAGE questionnaire achieved the highest values of sensitivity and specificity in detecting alcohol use disorders tested against that of the SCID-I. Conclusions: Alcohol use disorders and at-risk drinking are frequent in patients affected by mood disorders, although often underestimated; this underestimation was virtually absolute in the sample of patients investigated. Combination of the CAGE questionnaire plus the first questions in the NIAAA Guide may be an effective tool for use in the identification of psychiatric patients with possible alcohol use disorders or at-risk drinking.
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