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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Assessment of Alcohol Use Patterns Among Spanish-Speaking Patients

  • Author(s): Lotfipour, Shahram
  • Cisneros, Victor
  • Anderson, Craig L.
  • Roumani, Samer
  • Hoonpongsimanont, Wirachin
  • Weiss, Jie
  • Chakravarthy, Bharath
  • Dykzeul, Brad
  • Vaca, Federico
  • et al.


To assess drinking patterns of Spanish-speaking patients using a bilingual Computerized Alcohol Screening and brief Intervention (CASI) tablet computer equipped with the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).


This retrospective study was conducted in a tertiary university hospital emergency department (ED) between 2006 and 2010. Data from 1,816 Spanish-speaking ED patients was analyzed using descriptive statistics, the chi-square test for independence, and the Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test for comparisons using quantitative variables.


Overall, 15% of Spanish-speaking patients were at-risk drinkers, and 5% had an AUDIT score consistent with alcohol dependency (≥20). A higher percentage of Spanish-speaking males than females were at-risk drinkers or likely dependent. Spanish speaking males exhibited higher frequency of drinking days per week and higher number of drinks per day compared to females. Among older patients, non-drinking behavior increased and at-risk drinkers decreased. The majority of males and females were ready to change their behavior after the CASI intervention; 61% and 69% respectively scored 8-10.


This study indicated that CASI was an effective tool for detecting at-risk and likely dependent drinking behavior in Spanish-speaking ED patients. The majority of patients were ready to change their drinking behavior. More alcohol screening and brief intervention tools should be tested and become readily accessible for Spanish-speaking patients.

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