CAGE questionnaire

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Alcohol dependence is likely if the patient gives 2 or more positive answers:

  • have you ever felt you should CUT down your drinking?
  • have people ANNOYED you by criticising your drinking?
  • have you ever felt bad or GUILTY about your drinking?
  • have you ever had a drink first think in the morning to steady your nerves or get rid of a hangover (EYE- opener)? (1)

A score of 2 to 3 indicates a high index of suspicion and a score of 4 is virtually diagnostic for alcoholism (2).

  • Bernadt et al have claimed that the CAGE test (scores >=2) has a sensitivity of 93% and a specificity of 76% for the identification of problem drinkers
  • the sensitivity of the CAGE questionnaire in screening for alcoholism is dramatically enhanced by an open-ended introduction (3)

The CAGE shares the disadvantage of the MAST that it asks about the respondent’s lifetime experience of alcohol rather than focusing on the recent past (1)


Last reviewed 01/2018