The relationship between alcohol and cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury

Jennie Louise Ponsford, Laura Catherine Tweedly, John Raymond Taffe

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29 Citations (Scopus)


The present study aimed to examine the association between frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption and cognitive functioning following traumatic brain injury (TBI). Sixty moderately to severely injured individuals had completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to measure preinjury alcohol use soon after injury and were recruited and assessed with AUDIT and Time Line Follow-Back (TLFB), as a measure of frequency and quantity of alcohol consumption at 6-9 months post injury. Fifty participants completed both AUDIT and TLFB at a follow-up assessment at 12-15 months post injury. Measures of processing speed/attention, memory, and executive function were also administered. Regression analyses were used to examine the relationships between alcohol use and cognition at the two occasions of measurement. Harmful or hazardous alcohol use pre injury was associated with poorer memory performance on the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT-II) and slower processing speed on Symbol Digit Modalities Test on average across postinjury measurement occasions, but not with executive functioning, measured by the Modified Six Elements Test (MSET) at 6-9 months post injury. On the other hand, executive functioning on MSET 6-9 months post injury was significantly poorer in participants who were consuming any alcohol at all in the month prior to follow-up assessment. The current study provides evidence showing that pre- and postinjury alcohol use is negatively associated with different aspects of cognitive functioning following TBI. In addition to providing some support for the provision of advice to abstain from alcohol after injury, these findings suggest that interventions to reduce postinjury alcohol use may be useful.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103 - 112
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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