CAGE questionnaire

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The CAGE questionnaire is a set of four questions about a person's drinking habits. It is commonly used to test adults for alcoholism.[1]

Because it is so short, doctors often start by using the CAGE questionnaire when they suspect that a patient may be an alcoholic.[2] People can also do the CAGE questionnaire on their own.[1]

"CAGE" is an acronym for the four questions in the test.

The test[change | change source]

The four questions in the CAGE questionnaire are:[3][2]

Question
C Have you ever felt like you needed to Cut down on your drinking [drink less]?
A Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?
G Have you ever felt Guilty about your drinking?
E Have you ever felt like you needed a drink first thing in the morning (an Eye-opener) to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover?

Scoring the test[change | change source]

If a person answers "yes" to a question, they score one point for that question. If they answer "no" to a question, they score a 0.[3]

If a person scores 2 or more - meaning they answered "yes" to at least two of the four questions - they are likely to have a problem with alcohol.[4]

Scoring 2 or more on the CAGE does not automatically mean that a person is an alcoholic. However, it does mean that they need more testing to see if they are an alcoholic.[2]

The most important question is the last one.[1] If a person needs a drink in the morning to feel better, it means they are having alcohol withdrawal symptoms. This means the person's body is dependent on alcohol. (The person's body is so used to having alcohol that when it does not have alcohol, even overnight, the person gets sick.) This is one of the main signs of alcoholism.[5]

Effectiveness[change | change source]

Many studies have shown that the CAGE questionnaire is a good test for alcoholism.[1][4] For example, one study showed that:[6]

  • 77% of people who scored 2 or more on the CAGE were alcoholics
  • 93% of people who scored less than 2 were not alcoholics

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Williams N 2014. "The CAGE Questionnaire". Occupational Medicine 64 (6): 473-74. doi:10.1093/occmed/kqu058. https://occmed.oxfordjournals.org/content/64/6/473.full. Retrieved February 21, 2016. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "CAGE Substance Abuse Screening Tool" (PDF). Johns Hopkins Medicine. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Ewing JA 1984. "Detecting Alcoholism: The CAGE Questionnaire". Journal of the American Medical Association (American Medical Association) 252: 1905-1907. PMID 6471323. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kitchens JM 1994. "Does this patient have an alcohol problem?". Journal of the American Medical Association 272 (22): 1782–7. doi:10.1001/jama.1994.03520220076034. PMID 7966928. 
  5. "The ICD-10 Classification of Mental and Behavioral Disorders: Clinical Descriptions and Diagnostic Guidelines" (PDF). World Health Organization Programmes: Management of Substance Abuse. World Health Organization. Retrieved February 21, 2016.
  6. Bernadt MW; Mumford J; et al. 1982. "Comparison of questionnaire and laboratory tests in the detection of excessive drinking and alcoholism". Lancet 6 (8267): 325–8. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(82)91579-3. PMID 6120322.