A Scheme for Determining the Prevalence of Alcoholism in Hospitalized Patients

Macaran A. Baird, Sandra K. Burge, William D. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


As a part of an on‐going effort to assess the prevalence of alcoholism among hospitalized patients, a structured technique was devised to document the prevalence of alcoholism in a large teaching hospital. A system of inpatient chart audit classification was developed to assess direct evidence of patient alcoholism. In addition, the reported prevalence of alcoholism as a discharge diagnosis was determined. An assessment of the degree of alcoholism was used to classify patients into severity levels. A determination was made of the relationship of hospital chart data classification level to other medical problems or treatments directly addressed by the physicians) that would indicate that the alcohol abuse, if present, was considered. A retrospective chart audit was conducted for 809 consecutive adult admissions to a 350‐bed urban university teaching hospital using a specific classification scheme for determining evidence of alcoholism. This technique revealed a reported prevalence of alcoholism in 4.3% of all nonobstetric admissions to this university hospital. However, a chart review technique using specific criteria for the diagnosis of probable alcoholism raised the estimated prevalence to 15.9%. When the chart contained a primary diagnosis of alcoholism, physicians' responses reflected treatment plans that addressed acute management of alcohol related medical complications but often did not document efforts to assist the patient with the underlying alcoholism/substance abuse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)782-785
Number of pages4
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1989


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