Relationship between level of consumption and harms in assessing drink cut-points for alcohol research: Commentary on "Many college freshmen drink at levels far beyond the binge threshold" by white et Al.

Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research (Impact Factor: 3.31). 07/2006; 30(6):922-7. DOI: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2006.00124.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In this commentary, we describe the use of a 5/4 drink summary measure of heavy episodic alcohol consumption, or "binge" drinking, in survey research and its usefulness for preventing negative alcohol-related consequences. Data from 4 nationally representative surveys of more than 50,000 college students are utilized to examine the utility of this measure in comparison with alternative cut-points. Our analysis demonstrates that while higher drink threshold measures incrementally improve the ability to identify correctly students who experience harms or who meet DSM-IV diagnostic criteria of alcohol abuse and dependence, they capture only a small proportion of those college students experiencing harms. We conclude that the selection of a measurement tool should be consistent with the purpose for which it is to be used. The 5/4 measure of binge drinking provides a valuable means for understanding and preventing alcohol-related harms in a college population and can be utilized as a screen to identify students who may need additional clinical assessment for intervention.