Neurocognitive functioning and treatment outcome following detoxification among asian alcohol-dependent inpatients

Victoria Manning, Hui Chin Teo, Song Guo, Kim Eng Wong, Ting Kai Li

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The prevalence of alcohol use disorders in Asia is increasing and relapse among treated populations remains the norm, not the exception. The extent to which cognitive impairment influences clinical outcome remains unclear, with research dominated by studies of Caucasian populations. Objectives: This study examines behavioral and self-reported cognitive functioning in detoxified alcohol-dependent (AD) patients in Singapore and its association with outcome. Methods: The cognitive performance of 30 recently-detoxified AD inpatients and 30 demographically-matched controls was compared using visuospatial memory, working memory, set-shifting, planning and reflection impulsivity tests of the CANTAB®, and self-reported dysexecutive symptoms and everyday cognitive difficulties. Patients alcohol use and self-reported cognitive functioning were reassessed 3-months post-discharge. Results: Compared to matched controls, AD inpatients exhibited significantly poorer fluid intelligence, visuospatial memory, working memory, set-shifting flexibility and planning/organization, but not reflection impulsivity. In support of Western studies, a significant proportion (three-quarters) were "clinically impaired" on subtests. Significant reductions were observed in alcohol units, frequency and dependency scores at follow-up, though improvements in self-reported cognitive functioning were limited to abstainers. Baseline cognitive performance did not differentiate those who had abstained from alcohol and relapsed at follow-up. Conclusions/Importance: Memory and executive functioning impairments were evident among Asian AD patients alongside self-reported cognitive difficulties, thus cognitively demanding psychological interventions may have limited impact during early detoxification. Future studies can build on these findings, with larger samples and measurement of moderating and mediating factors to extend our understanding of how cognitive impairment influences outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-205
Number of pages13
JournalSubstance Use and Misuse
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2016


  • Alcohol dependence
  • Asia
  • executive function
  • neuropsychological tests
  • treatment outcome

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