Purpose: Cognitive impairment is common among patients with alcohol use disorder (AUD). However, neuropsychological assessment is not usually included as routine practice in alcohol rehabilitation programs. The aim of this study was to describe qualitatively the cognitive deficits in early-detoxified AUD patients undergoing rehabilitation and to explore relevant associations with socio-demographic, clinical and psychological factors.
Patients and Methods: Forty-one patients with a diagnosis of AUD were consecutively recruited from a residential rehabilitation hospital in Northern Italy. Cognitive impairment was assessed using the Brief Neuropsychological Examination 2 (ENB-2). Anxiety, depression and severity of alcohol dependence were also evaluated using validated self-report questionnaires. Alcohol relapse was investigated 1 month after discharge.
Results: Overall, 31.7% of AUD patients showed cognitive impairments according to the global score scale. However, 70.7% had an impaired performance on at least one test of the ENB-2, with particular regard to executive function, visuospatial and memory domains. Age, education and abstinence at admission were the most relevant factors associated with cognitive deficits in this clinical population.
Conclusion: The detection of cognitive impairments is essential in order to adapt alcohol rehabilitation treatment to patients with cognitive deficits and enhance clinical outcomes.