Problem solving deficits and smaller social network in persons treated for alcoholic liver disease  [presentation, ppt, 634 kB]

Zorko M., Roškar S., Bucik V., Jeriček H., Čebašek Travnik Z., Kocijančič B., Štabuc B.
First author's affiliation: Institute of Public Health of the Republic of Slovenia, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Contemporary research highlights the importance of cognitive functions and availability of social support in the development of alcohol dependence syndrome. Cognitive deficits, specific features of perceived social support, and high prevalence of depression were found in alcohol-dependent persons treated for alcohol dependence by psychiatrists. On the other hand, the population of people treated for alcoholic liver disease in gastroenterology departments has seldom been investigated. The aim of our study was to investigate the prevalence of depression, problem-solving, and perceived social support in persons with alcoholic liver disease (N = 42) as compared to those with non-alcoholic liver disease (N = 9) and hospital controls (N = 31). AUDIT-10, Beck Depression Inventory, Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, Means-ends Problem Solving Test and Perceived Social Support Questionnaire were used. The hypothesis that persons with alcoholic liver disease would show more signs and symptoms of depression as compared to the other two groups was not confirmed. Compared to hospital controls, persons with alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease showed decreased cognitive flexibility and deficits in problem solving. Moreover, the group with alcoholic liver disease showed deficits in interpersonal problem solving, which were evident in the phase of generating alternative solutions to the problem. In this group, no correlations between the level of harmful drinking, severity of liver cirrhosis and cognitive deficits were found. Persons with alcoholic liver disease had a smaller social network, while no differences between the groups were found regarding satisfaction with support and other examined social network characteristics. We conclude that psychosocial interventions aimed at persons treated for alcoholic liver disease in gastroenterology departments should focus on teaching effective problem-solving techniques, strengthening supportive network ties and encouraging people to use alternative sources of support.