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Clinical Research Scholarships 2020

Investigating the outcomes of providing specialist neuropsychological assessment to individuals with alcohol or polysubstance use histories attending Alcohol and Other Drug treatment services

Amount awarded: $140,500.00

Principal Investigator: Dr James Gooden, NCCRED Clinical Research Scholar

Investigating the outcomes of providing specialist neuropsychological assessment to individuals with alcohol or polysubstance use histories attending Alcohol and Other Drug treatment services

Amount awarded: $140,500.00

Principal Investigator: Dr James Gooden, NCCRED Clinical Research Scholar

Cognitive impairment is common in clients with substance use disorder, with prevalence rates ranging from 30-80% (Bates, Bowden & Barry, 2002), highlighting the importance of cognitive assessment and intervention in addiction settings. In addressing these concerns, Clinical Neuropsychologists are uniquely situated to examine higher-cortical function, inform diagnosis, and guide management (Watts & Crowe, 2018).

Research has shown improved diagnostic accuracy and functional outcomes following neuropsychology consultation across varying neurological disorders (Watt & Crowe, 2018), however, there is no research exploring the impact of neuropsychology in an addiction setting. Demonstrating value-add of neuropsychology in this context is critical to increasing service-access to meet demand.

Preliminary analyses from our addiction neuropsychology service have identified areas of unmet need, enhanced understanding, and informed clinical practice, but data has not been updated since mid-2018. An updated analysis with current data would allow for exploration of nuanced research questions, including the impact of new/emerging drugs (e.g. GHB) and polysubstance use on cognition.

This study therefore aims to investigate the reasons for and outcomes of accessing neuropsychological services for individuals with significant alcohol and polysubstance use. As the only state-wide addiction neuropsychology service within the Australian public sector, we are uniquely placed to conduct this research.

To investigate the first aim we will update and conduct a retrospective analysis of our clinical database of clients seen for assessment since 2014 (n=~350). To investigate the second aim, we will conduct a prospective outcome study exploring the potential benefits of providing neuropsychological services to this clinical cohort. Baseline measures will be completed immediately prior to the neuropsychology assessment and will include measures of quality of life, alcohol and substance use, self-efficacy, emotional distress and questionnaires regarding the client’s understanding of their cognitive abilities and their presenting concerns. The same measures will be completed at follow up, approximately eight weeks following the client’s therapeutic feedback appointment. Outcome measures for the project will include any new diagnoses conveyed as a result of the assessment, new recommendations for referrals and whether the client is eligible to access new funding or services in addition to changes in the measures administered at baseline.

Dr James Gooden, Chief Investigator & NCCRED Clinical Research Scholar

Turning Point, Eastern health

Dr Catherine Cox, Senior Clinical Neuropsychologist 

Turning Point, Eastern health

Dr Vanessa Petersen, Clinical Neuropsychologist 

Turning Point, Eastern health

Ms Georgia Bolt, Clinical Neuropsychologist 

Turning Point, Eastern health

A/Prof Victoria Manning, Co-Investigator, Head of Research and Workforce Development 

Turning Point, Eastern Health Monash Addiction Research Centre, Eastern Health Clinical School, Monash University