Identification and Evaluation of Neuropsychological Tools Used in the Assessment of Alcohol-Related Cognitive Impairment: A Systematic Review

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Neuropsychological assessment is central to identifying and determining the extent of Alcohol-Related Brain Damage (ARBD). The present systematic review aimed to synthesize and discuss the evidence appraising the neuropsychological tests used to assess ARBD. We searched for studies investigating the psychometric, diagnostic and practical values of tools used in the screening, diagnosis and assessment Korsakoff’s Syndrome, Alcohol-Related Dementia, and those with a specific diagnosis of ARBD. The following databases were searched in March 2016 and again in July 2017: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Psych-INFO, ProQuest Psychology and Science Direct. Study quality was assessed using a checklist designed by the authors to evaluate the specific factors contributing to a robust and clearly reported study in this area. A total of 43 studies were included following the screening of 3646 studies by title and abstract and 360 at full-text. Review findings were narratively synthesized and divided according to five domains of assessment: cognitive screening, memory, executive function, intelligence and test batteries, and premorbid ability. Effect sizes (d) were calculated to supplement findings. Overall, several measures demonstrated sensitivity to the cognitive deficits associated with chronic alcoholism and an ability to differentiate between gradations of impairment. However, reliability values and investigations of the ability of tests to predict functional outcomes in those with ARBD were scant. Based on the evidence reviewed, provisional recommendations for appropriate tests in each domain of assessment are presented, though further validation of most tests is warranted. Review findings can support efficient and evidenced-based test-selection and guide future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2618
Number of pages42
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Dec 2018


  • ARBD
  • Korsakoff’s syndrome
  • alcohol-related dementia
  • neuropsychological assessment
  • screening
  • diagnosis
  • alcohol-related cognitive impairment
  • alcohol-related brain damage


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