BACKGROUND: Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is to a high degree heritable, and in clinical practice it is common to assert presence of alcohol abuse family history (FH) in treatment-seeking AUD patients. Patients with AUD also exhibit cognitive deficits, including elevated impulsivity and impairments in executive functions (EF), but less is known regarding the relation between FH and these cognitive domains. The aim of the current study was to investigate if alcohol abuse FH in AUD patients is associated with a specific cognitive profile.
METHODS: Patients with AUD (n = 197) from Sweden (n = 106) and Belgium (n = 91) were recruited. Self-rated impulsivity was assessed by the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS). EF assessed were response inhibition (stop signal task), attention (rapid visual processing task), and working memory (digit span). A series of linear regression models were run to explore the effect of FH on cognitive outcomes.
RESULTS: A FH of alcohol abuse was associated with elevated score in self-rated impulsivity assessed by the BIS, with the greatest effect on the subscale of nonplanning. There was no statistically significant association between FH and any of the other neuropsychological task outcomes.
CONCLUSION: Presence of alcohol abuse FH within AUD patients could be a marker of higher impulsivity, which may have clinical implications regarding diagnostic evaluation and treatment.