Sustained attention but not effort-based decision-making predicts treatment motivation change in people with methamphetamine dependence

Adam J. Rubenis, Rebecca E. Fitzpatrick, Dan I. Lubman, Antonio Verdejo-Garcia

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Early treatment motivation is a meaningful predictor of clinical outcomes in the context of methamphetamine dependence (MD). Cognitive deficits associated with MD can have a significant impact on motivational fluctuations during early treatment. We specifically examined if sustained attention and effort-based decision-making predict early treatment motivation change in individuals with MD. We hypothesised that both variables would be significant predictors of individual differences in treatment motivation change. Methods: We conducted a longitudinal, observational, cohort study on individuals with MD (N = 72, Age, M = 31.1, SD = 7.3, 29% female). Participants were assessed with cognitive tests of sustained attention (continuous performance test) and effort-based decision-making (effort expenditure for rewards task) within three weeks of entering treatment and rated their treatment motivation at baseline and at follow up six weeks later (n = 50). Multiple regression was used to examine the predictive value of cognitive variables after controlling for nuisance variables. Results: Cognitive measures significantly predicted change in treatment motivation after accounting for nuisance variables, F(5,43) = 2.89, p =.025. Analysis of individual predictors showed that sustained attention, but not decision-making, was a significant negative predictor of improvement in treatment motivation (β = −0.34, p =.015). Conclusions: Poorer attentional function was associated with limited improvement in motivation during early treatment. These findings help to characterise cognitive predictors of treatment motivation and suggest directions for tailored treatment programs. Individuals entering treatment with attentional deficits may benefit from adjustments to therapy and/or cognitive remediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2018


  • Cognitive deficits
  • Early recovery
  • Effort-based decision-making
  • Methamphetamine
  • Sustained attention
  • Treatment motivation

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