MAST Screening: What It Is And How It Works
28 September, 2023
The MAST screening or Michigan Alcohol Screening Test is a widely used tool for identifying potential alcohol-related problems in individuals. The screening process involves a series of questions that cover various aspects of alcohol consumption. These include the frequency, quantity, and the impact on daily life. Administering the MAST evaluation allows healthcare professionals to gain valuable insights into a person’s alcohol-related behaviours. They can then provide appropriate interventions or referrals if necessary based on the assessment results.
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can harm personal and work life, posing risks like drink driving and workplace accidents. Drink driving not only endangers the lives of those who engage in it but also puts innocent bystanders at risk. This can lead to penalties, including fines, license suspension, alcohol interlock, or jail time. Therefore, the early identification of AUD through tools like the MAST is crucial. This article will present the functions and advantages of the MAST diagnostic tool.
What Is MAST Screening
MAST screening is a diagnostic instrument used to identify individuals with potential alcohol-related problems. It consists of a 25-question test that assesses a person’s current alcohol habits. These include the severity of their drinking problems, their desire for alcohol, and the impact of alcohol use on their daily life. Additionally, this screening provides a weighted scoring system that helps determine the likelihood of alcohol abuse or dependence.
The purpose of the MAST is to identify people who may be at risk for alcohol-related issues. These include liver trouble, delirium tremens, or other adverse health effects. Moreover, mental health clinics or social workers can use it to assess alcohol abuse potential and guide appropriate interventions. The results inform decisions on whether to proceed with further assessment or treatment, such as alcohol detox or referral to a psychiatric ward.
In addition, healthcare professionals may also complement the MAST with objective alcohol testing methods. These objective tests include blood tests, hair tests, saliva tests, urine tests, and breath tests. These tests offer a more comprehensive evaluation of a person’s alcohol use.
Other Screening Methods
- Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT): a 10-question screening tool that assesses alcohol consumption, drinking behaviours, and alcohol-related problems.
- CAGE questionnaire: a four-question screening tool that asks about cutting down, annoyance, guilt, and eye-openers to identify potential alcohol dependence.
- Short Michigan Alcohol Screening Test (SMAST): a shorter version of the MAST, consisting of 13 questions, which measures the severity of drinking problems.
- T-ACE: a four-question screening tool specifically designed for use with pregnant women to identify risk factors for alcohol-related problems.
- TWEAK: a five-question screening tool primarily used with pregnant women to identify risk factors for problem drinking.
How MAST Screening Works
The MAST screening works by utilising a series of questions or assessments to identify potential issues or concerns. It aims to evaluate various aspects of a person’s well-being or specific areas of interest in a straightforward manner. Through the use of simple and easy-to-understand language, the MAST allows individuals to provide accurate and reliable information
To conduct the screening, a social worker or a healthcare professional will administer the questionnaire to the person. Typically, the questions revolve around the frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption. They also inquire about the impact it has on daily life, relationships, and overall well-being. The individual must answer each question honestly and to the best of their knowledge.
Furthermore, the interpretation of screening results is based on a weighted scoring system. Each question assigns a different point value, which then adds up to provide an overall score. A higher score indicates a greater likelihood of alcohol-related problems. However, it is important to note that the MAST alone does not provide a definitive diagnosis of AUD. It serves as an initial screening tool that can highlight potential issues.
Types of Drinking Assessment by the Test
When using the MAST, there are two main types of drinking assessments that can be conducted. Firstly, the identification of AUD. The MAST helps to identify individuals who may be suffering from alcohol abuse by evaluating various aspects. These include drinking patterns, consequences of alcohol use, and self-perception of drinking habits.
Secondly, the evaluation of alcohol-related problems. The MAST helps to assess the presence and severity of various alcohol-related problems. These problems may include impaired social functioning, physical harm, or negative consequences in personal relationships and work life. This drinking assessment helps individuals understand alcohol’s harmful effects and assists healthcare professionals in tailoring interventions.
Advantages of MAST Screening
There are several advantages that the MAST screening offers in detecting alcohol abuse and dependence. Firstly, it provides a quick and reliable assessment of an individual’s alcohol use. By utilising a weighted scoring system, the MAST test objectively measures the severity of drinking problems. This makes it a valuable tool in determining the appropriate level of intervention required.
Secondly, its ability to detect a broad range of alcohol-related issues. From problematic alcohol use to severe alcohol dependence, the 25-question test covers a wide spectrum of drinking behaviours. This comprehensive approach ensures that people with varying levels of alcohol-related problems can be accurately assessed.
Lastly, it offers an opportunity for early intervention, which is crucial in preventing the development of full-blown alcohol addiction. By identifying individuals with hazardous or harmful alcohol use early on, health professionals can initiate timely interventions and provide necessary support. This proactive approach ultimately reduces the negative consequences associated with alcohol abuse. Overall, the advantages of the MAST lie in its speed, reliability, comprehensiveness, and potential for early intervention.
Reviewing the Results
The MAST results are interpreted based on a scoring system that assigns numerical values to each response. The scoring process involves weighing the answers, with a focus on responses indicating a higher likelihood of alcohol-related issues. By summing the weighted scores, an overall score is obtained, which corresponds to different levels of alcohol problem severity.
Healthcare professionals interpret MAST results based on varying levels of alcohol problem severity. Scores from 0 to 5 indicate normal drinking, while 6 to 12 show alcohol influence without AUD. Scores falling between 13 and 19 suggest moderate alcohol problems, while 20 and above signify severe alcohol dependence or addiction.
The MAST screening is a valuable diagnostic tool used by healthcare professionals to identify individuals at risk of alcohol-related problems. It involves a straightforward questionnaire, assessing various aspects of alcohol use and its impact on daily life. MAST’s advantages include its speed, reliability, and ability to detect a wide range of alcohol-related issues. Most importantly, it offers the opportunity for early intervention, reducing the potential harm associated with alcohol abuse.
Furthermore, the MAST offers two primary types of drinking assessments: identifying AUD and evaluating alcohol-related problems. Additionally, healthcare professionals interpret the results by assigning numerical values to responses, with higher values indicating a greater alcohol-related problem. This scoring system categorises people into normal drinking, alcohol influence without AUD, moderate alcohol problems, or severe alcohol dependence. Such evaluations assist in tailoring interventions and helping individuals understand the harmful effects of alcohol.