The RAPS4 Alcohol Screening Test

Proven More Effective Than CAGE Test

Friends laughing together during party on deck

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images 

The RAPS4 alcohol screening test is a four-question quiz designed for busy clinical healthcare offices that have been shown to be effective in detecting alcohol dependence in the past 12 months.

It began as a five-question test called the Rapid Alcohol Problems Screen and was designed to maximize sensitivity in detecting alcohol problems. It was later refined to four questions and the name was changed to RAPS4. The test was made up of questions already in use in other screening tests.

Primary care physicians' offices can be very busy as the family doctor tries to see all of the patients that request an appointment. If the doctor suspects that alcohol may be affecting the health of one of their patients, there really is not enough time for them to conduct a thorough substance abuse evaluation. Therefore, short 4- or 5-questions quizzes, like the RAPS4, are ideal for making an initial evaluation.

Effectiveness of the RAPS4 Test

The RAPS4 test has been found to be highly effective in detecting alcohol dependence in the past year across gender and ethnic groups - white, Black and Hispanic. Research has also shown that the RAPS4 is more effective than the CAGE test, which has traditionally been the most widely used test in clinical settings.

The RAPS4 gets its name from the questions it poses to the patient which pertain to remorse (R), amnesia (A), performance (P), and starter drinking behavior (S). Each question pertains to the patient's behaviors in the past year.

RAPS4 Questions

  1. Have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
  2. Has a friend or a family member ever told you about things you said or did while you were drinking that you could not remember?
  3. Have you failed to do what was normally expected of you because of drinking?
  4. Do you sometimes take a drink when you first get up in the morning?

A "yes" answer to at least one of the four questions suggests that your drinking is harmful to your health and well-being and may adversely affect your work and those around you. If you answered "no" to all four questions, your drinking pattern is considered safe for most people and your results do not suggest that alcohol is harming your health. Unsure about the results? You may want to take the more detailed Alcohol Abuse Screening Test for further evaluation.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cherpitel CJ. A brief screening instrument for problem drinking in the emergency room: the RAPS4. Rapid Alcohol Problems Screen. J Stud Alcohol. 2000;61(3):447-449. doi:10.15288/jsa.2000.61.447

  2. Cherpitel CJ. Screening for alcohol problems in the U.S. general population: Comparison of the CAGE, RAPS4, and RAPS4‐QF by gender, ethnicity, and service utilization. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006;26:1686-1691. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2002.tb02471.x