Effects of cognitive impairment on substance abuse treatment attendance: predictive validation of a brief cognitive screening measure

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 2012 May;38(3):246-50. doi: 10.3109/00952990.2012.670866. Epub 2012 Mar 26.


Background and objectives: Neuropsychological impairment among patients with substance use disorders (SUDs) contributes to poorer treatment processes and outcomes. However, neuropsychological assessment is typically not an aspect of patient evaluation in SUD treatment programs because it is prohibitively time and resource consuming. In a previous study, we examined the concurrent validity, classification accuracy, and clinical utility of a brief screening measure, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), in identifying cognitive impairment among SUD patients. To provide further evidence of criterion-related validity, MoCA classification should optimally predict a clinically relevant behavior or outcome among SUD patients. The purpose of this study was to examine the validity of the MoCA in predicting treatment attendance.

Methods: We compared previously collected clinical assessment data on 60 SUD patients receiving treatment in a program of short duration and high intensity to attendance data obtained via medical chart review.

Results: Though the proportion of therapy sessions attended did not differ between groups, cognitively impaired subjects were significantly less likely than unimpaired subjects to attend all of their group therapy sessions.

Conclusion: These results complement our previous findings by providing further evidence of criterion-related validity of the MoCA in predicting a clinically relevant behavior (i.e., perfect attendance) among SUD patients.

Scientific significance: The capacity of the MoCA to predict a clinically relevant behavior provides support for its validity as a brief cognitive screening measure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cognition Disorders / complications
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychotherapy, Group / methods
  • Psychotherapy, Group / statistics & numerical data*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / complications
  • Substance-Related Disorders / drug therapy
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / therapy