The Development of a Behaviorally-Based Alcohol Intoxication Scale

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The ED and Behavioral Health (BH) department developed a behaviorally-based alcohol intoxication scale (AIS) to assess when patients can be transferred to the BH unit from the ED rather than using blood alcohol levels. The purpose of this study was to determine the reliability and validity of the scale. A secondary purpose was to determine whether there was any correlation between blood alcohol level and the alcohol intoxication scale.


Inter-rater reliability was calculated by assessing the same patient at the same time by 2 people. To assess for criterion-related validity of the scale, the medical records of the subjects were reviewed in behavioral health to determine whether the patients being transferred to BH were medically stable.


Using Krippendorff’s alpha to assess inter-rater reliability, the total score on the AIS yielded an alpha of 0.9396. To assess for criterion-related validity of the scale, the charts of the subjects were reviewed; data supported that the patients were medically stable after transfer. As expected, there was no correlation between the AIS and blood alcohol level. The results of this study show initial reliability and validity for the AIS.


This study showed preliminary support for using a behaviorally-based assessment as a basis for transferring patients to the BH unit. More studies are needed to further substantiate the reliability and validity of this measure as a tool to accurately assess stability for transfer to a BH unit.

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