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Performance of recently detoxified patients with alcoholism on a neuropsychological screening test.

Zinn S, Bosworth HB, Edwards CL, Logue PE, Swartzwelder HS. Performance of recently detoxified patients with alcoholism on a neuropsychological screening test. Addictive Behaviors. 2003 Jul 1; 28(5):837-49.

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OBJECTIVE: Early in recovery from alcoholism, cognitive deficits may compromise patients' utilization of rehabilitative information. Cognitive impairment in a sample of newly detoxified inpatients with alcoholism was examined using the Neurobehavioral Cognitive Status Examination (NCSE). METHODS: Consecutively admitted psychiatric inpatients (N = 233) with an alcohol-related primary diagnosis (63% male, mean age 46.3) were administered the NCSE following medical stabilization. Within-samples differences between age and diagnostic groups were examined and scores were compared to normative samples. RESULTS: Inpatients older than 50 demonstrated significant cognitive deficits for all scales except Attention. In comparison with normative samples, patients with alcoholism produced lower scores, with the most pronounced deficits among middle-aged patients. In alcohol-abusing patients with medical comorbidities, language deficits and more severe memory deficits were observed. Abuse severity or comorbid psychiatric disorder produced no differences in NCSE scores. CONCLUSIONS: Neuropsychological screening following detoxification in patients diagnosed with an alcohol disorder reflected the effects of increased age and medical comorbidity. Our finding of frequent deficits in abstraction, comprehension, and memory suggests that cognitive-behavioral treatments for inpatients may be less effective if cognitive impairment is not considered.

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