Comasco E, Nordquist N, Leppert J, Oreland L, Kronstrand R, Alling C, Nilsson KW
J Stud Alcohol Drugs 70 (5) 797-804 [2009-09-00; online 2009-09-10]
The aim of this study was to investigate the congruence of biomarkers, questionnaires, and interviews as instruments to assess adolescent alcohol consumption. The methodology used was a cross-sectional study with a randomized sample. Four different methods were used to estimate high adolescent alcohol consumption. The concordance of the results was investigated. Surveys were performed, and biological specimens were collected at all schools in the county of Västmanland, Sweden, in 2001. Eighty-one boys and 119 girls from a population of 16- and 19-year-old adolescents were randomly selected from quartiles of volunteers representing various degrees of psychosocial risk behaviors. Using a questionnaire (for a 1-hour session) and in-depth interviews, subjects were assessed regarding their alcohol-use habits. Blood and hair samples were analyzed for phosphatidylethanol (PEth) and fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs), respectively. High alcohol consumption was underreported in the questionnaire compared with the interviews. PEth and FAEE analyses weakly confirmed the self-reports, and the results of the two biochemical tests did not overlap. The PEth blood test was the most specific but the least sensitive, whereas the FAEE hair test revealed low specificity and an overrepresentation of positive results in girls. The expected higher self-report of high alcohol consumption by interview rather than by questionnaire was confirmed partly because of the influence of a bogus pipeline procedure. The absence of overlap between PEth and FAEE results and their poor agreement with self-reports suggested that biomarkers are unsuitable as screening tools for alcohol consumption in adolescents.