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Development and validation of a composite score for excessive alcohol use screening
  1. Wanzhu Tu1,
  2. Chenghao Chu1,
  3. Shanshan Li1,
  4. Suthat Liangpunsakul2,3
  1. 1Department of Biostatistics, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  2. 2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  3. 3Roudebush veterans Administration Medical Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Suthat Liangpunsakul, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 550 N. University Blvd, UH 4100, Indianapolis 46202, IN, USA; sliangpu{at}


This study was undertaken to develop a composite measure that combines the discriminant values of individual laboratory markers routinely used for excessive alcohol use (EAU) for an improved screening performance. The training sample consisted of 272 individuals with known history of EAU and 210 non-alcoholic individuals. The validation sample included 100 EAU and 75 controls. We used the estimated regression coefficients and the observed marker values to calculate the individual's composite screening score; this score was converted to a probability measure for excessive drinking in the given individual. A threshold value for the screening score based on an examination of the estimated sensitivity and specificity associated with different threshold values was proposed. Using regression coefficients estimated from the training sample, a composite score based on the levels of aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, per cent carbohydrate-deficient transferrin and mean corpuscular volume was calculated. The areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) value of the selected model was 0.87, indicating a strong discriminating power and the AUC was better than that of each individual test. The score >0.23 corresponded to a sensitivity of 90% and a specificity of nearly 60%. The AUC value remained at a respectable level of 0.83 with the sensitivity and specificity at 91% and 49%, respectively, in the validation sample. We developed a novel composite score by using a combination of commonly used biomakers. However, the development of the mechanism-based biomarkers of EAU is needed to improve the screening and diagnosis of EAU in clinical practice.

  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Biological Markers

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