A multisite study was conducted to determine the psychometric properties of the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 2-question alcohol screen within pediatric emergency departments (PEDs).


Participants (N = 4838) included 12- to 17-year-old subjects treated in 1 of the 16 participating PEDs across the United States. A criterion assessment battery (including the NIAAA 2-question alcohol screen and other measures of alcohol, drug use, and risk behaviors) was self-administered on a tablet computer. A subsample (n = 186) was re-administered the NIAAA 2-question screen 1 week later to assess test-retest reliability.


Moderate to good test-retest reliability was demonstrated. A classification of moderate risk or higher on the screen had the best combined sensitivity and specificity for determining a diagnosis of alcohol use disorder (AUD) for all students. Any past year drinking among middle school students increased the odds of a diagnosis of an AUD according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition criteria, whereas the optimal cutoff for high school ages was ≥3 drinking days in the past year. The optimal cutoff for drinking days determining a positive Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test score among middle school subjects was ≥1 drinking day, whereas the optimal cutoff for high school subjects was ≥2 drinking days.


The NIAAA 2-question screen is a brief, valid approach for alcohol screening in PEDs. A positive screen suggests that referral for further evaluation is indicated to determine if an adolescent has an AUD.

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