Identification of Hazardous Drinking With the Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire: Relative Operating Characteristics as a Function of Gender

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Heavy and problematic drinking is common on college campuses and is associated with myriad hazardous outcomes. The Young Adult Alcohol Consequences Questionnaire (YAACQ; Read et al., 2006) was developed to provide comprehensive and expedient assessment of negative consequences of young adult drinking and has been used in a number of research and clinical settings. To date, no empirically derived cutoffs for the YAACQ have been available for use in the identification of those drinkers at greatest risk. This was the objective of the present study. In a large (N = 1,311) and demographically heterogeneous multisite sample, we identified cutoff scores for the YAACQ, and the contrasted detection of hazardous drinking using these cutoffs with those recommended for the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). We also examined whether cutoffs differed by gender. Results of receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis yielded cutoffs that delineate 3 levels (or zones) of hazardous drinking risk: low, moderate, and high. A cutoff of 8 differentiated those at low risk from those at moderate risk or greater, and a cutoff of 16 differentiated between moderate and high risk. These zones corresponded to other indices of risky drinking, including heavy episodic “binge” drinking, more frequent alcohol consumption, and engagement in alcohol risk behaviors. Scores differentiating low to moderate risk differed for men (8) and women (10), whereas the cutoff for high risk was the same (16) across the sexes. Findings suggest that the YAACQ can be used to reliably assess level of drinking risk among college students. Furthermore, these cut scores may be used to refer to interventions varying in intensity level, based on level of indicated alcohol risk.

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