Background We summarise the evidence for an association between screening scores from the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) and all-cause mortality.
Methods Using the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines, prospective cohort studies reporting all-cause mortality risk by AUDIT scores (complete AUDIT-10 or AUDIT-C) were identified through MEDLINE, Embase, PubMed and Web of Science up to September 2016. Risk estimates were pooled using random effects meta-analyses.
Results Seven observational studies with 18 920 observed deaths among 309 991 participants were identified. At-risk drinking (ie, hazardous/harmful consumption, AUDIT-10 ≥8 and AUDIT-C ≥4) was associated with elevated mortality risk after 2–10 years of follow-up (pooled relative risk (RR)=1.24, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.37) compared with moderate drinking (AUDIT-10=1–7, AUDIT-C=1–3). Compared to past year abstainers (AUDIT=0), moderate drinkers had a lower mortality risk (RR=0.75, 95% CI 0.71 to 0.79) in US Veterans and a similar mortality risk (RR=0.99, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.38) in population-based studies. Most data came from studies among Veterans using the short AUDIT-C in men and showed a dose–response relationship (RR=1.04, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.05 for each AUDIT-C score among drinkers). Data for women and young adults were scarce.
Conclusion AUDIT screening scores were associated with mortality risk. The association was differential depending on the population examined, which may be related to prevalence of former drinkers among current abstainers. Due to heterogeneity between studies and the small number of populations examined, generalisability may be limited.
- cohort studies
- meta analysis
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Contributors MR conceived, designed and oversaw the study. Both authors acquired the data, performed the statistical analyses, contributed to the interpretation of the data, and drafted the manuscript. In agreement with the ICMJE guidelines, all authors critically revised the manuscript for intellectual content and read and approved the final version of the manuscript for publication.
Funding This research was partially supported by grants WI 709/10-1 and WI 709/10-2 of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), FOR 1617).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent Not required.
Ethics approval Approvals of the primary studies were obtained as stated therein.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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