A systematic review of alcohol screening and assessment measures for young people

Paul Tomas Toner, Jan Rasmus Boehnke, James McCambridge

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    Background: This systematic review evaluates the validity of available instruments for screening and assessing alcohol consumption and related problems in young people aged 24 and under. Highlighting the best performing assessment tools which correctly identify young people at risk from alcohol-related harm provides researchers, practitioners and policy makers with the means of measuring prevalence and patterns of risk and can inform appropriate interventions.

    Materials and methods: A systematic review and narrative synthesis of studies reporting instrument properties from six electronic databases (including EMBASE, MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Social Sciences Citation Index) containing both peer-reviewed and grey literature. The review was conducted in accordance with the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination (CRD) guidance (CRD 2009). A modified COSMIN checklist was used to analyse the quality of psychometric studies for instruments achieving good levels (above 0.7) of reliability and predictive validity.

    Results: From the initial search 55 measures have been identified assessing alcohol use or substance use (with alcohol-related items) and/or associated problems. The review identified 26 instruments designed specifically for young people. Other instruments included modified adult measures or adult measures administered to youth populations. Preliminary findings indicate particular issues with the reliability of items used to capture alcohol-related consequences including dependence for young people. Screening tools also warrant further validation studies.

    Conclusions: This study provides a synthesis of validation data for the best performing alcohol screening and assessment measures for young people. Further work will be required to adapt and develop reliable and valid alcohol tools for the youth population.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)A24
    JournalAddiction Science and Clinical Practice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2016


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