Health-related quality of life in alcohol dependence: a systematic literature review with a specific focus on the role of depression and other psychopathology

Nord J Psychiatry. 2014 Aug;68(6):369-84. doi: 10.3109/08039488.2013.852242. Epub 2013 Nov 15.


Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is considered a valid measure of treatment effectiveness in addictions. However, alcohol research has lagged behind other biomedical fields in using HRQOL outcomes as primary or secondary endpoints. Previous work has suggested that psychiatric co-morbidity may mediate the relationship between alcohol dependence and HRQOL.

Aim: The goal was to summarize the literature on HRQOL and its domains in the context of alcohol dependence. A specific focus was on the impact of depression and other psychopathology on these areas of life.

Materials and methods: A database search of MEDLINE and PsychINFO was performed within the scope of PARADISE (Psychosocial fActors Relevant to brAin DISorders in Europe); a European Commission funded coordination action. Using pre-defined eligibility criteria, 42 studies were identified. A systematic approach to data collection was employed.

Results and conclusions: Alcohol dependence was shown to affect overall HRQOL and its domains, including general health, physical and mental health, general and social functioning, activities of daily living, pain and sleep. The evidence demonstrating that alcohol dependence is a primary cause of impairments in overall HRQOL, general health, mental and physical health and social functioning was fairly strong. Treatment interventions helped improve HRQOL and its aforementioned domains. The reduction or cessation of alcohol use facilitated these improvements; however, it was not reported to be predictive of improvement in all instances where improvement was reported. Depression was associated with further decreases in HRQOL. Personality disorders contributed to the severity of social functioning impairment.

Keywords: Alcohol dependence; Depression; Health-related quality of life; Psychopathology; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / psychology
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Comorbidity
  • Depression / rehabilitation*
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Adjustment