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Neuropsychobiology. 2008;57(4):159-64. doi: 10.1159/000147469. Epub 2008 Jul 24.

Personality traits predict treatment outcome in alcohol-dependent patients.

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Psychiatric University Clinics, Basel, Switzerland.


Personality traits are important individual characteristics modifying responses to therapy in various diseases. The aim of this study was to identify personality traits that may predict treatment outcome in alcohol-dependent patients. The present analysis was based on a total of 146 alcohol-dependent patients (109 male, 37 female) after detoxification. The variable of interest was treatment outcome (abstinence/relapse) after a 1-year follow-up. To identify personality traits as predictors of treatment outcome, 5 personality questionnaires (NEO 5-Factor Inventory, Temperament and Character Inventory, Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, Eysenck Impulsiveness-Venturesomeness-Empathy Scale and Sensation-Seeking Scale) were applied. Data analysis was performed by using a classification and regression tree analysis (CART; a nonparametric technique for data with a complex structure) in order to find a decision rule to predict treatment outcome from personality traits. The CART model identified psychoticism and persistence as the 2 most relevant discriminatory parameters, of which psychoticism was used as the first node in the model, classifying 64% of the patients correctly as relapsed and 12% correctly as abstinent. In addition, the risk of relapse was even higher in patients with a substantial score in psychoticism and a low score in persistence. When comparing relapsed and abstinent patients, further variables, such as scores for novelty seeking (20.9 +/- 5.5 vs. 18.5 +/- 5.9) and impulsiveness (8.4 +/- 3 vs. 7.2 +/- 3.5), showed significance. In addition, relapsed patients lived alone more often than abstinent patients (52 vs. 25%, p = 0.004). In conclusion, this analysis demonstrated that specific personality characteristics, namely psychoticism and persistence, are usable predictors for the risk of relapse in alcohol-dependent patients.

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