Background: Recent studies have shown that quality of life (QOL) is improved significantly when subjects do not relapse to heavy drinking, and QOL deteriorates significantly on prolonged relapse. This article further investigates these relationships using a QOL index, the Life Situation Survey (LSS).
Methods: Eighty-two DSM-IV alcohol-dependent subjects admitted for alcohol detoxification were studied at baseline and 12 week follow-up. Sociodemographic data were collected, and severity of alcohol dependence (SADQ) and General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12) were baseline indices only. The main outcome measure, the LSS, was administered at both time points.
Results: Two subjects were lost to follow-up and one died during the study period. Thus, the relapse/nonrelapse analysis related to 79 subjects. Fifty subjects (63%) had relapsed to heavy drinking at 3 months follow-up. There was a significant correlation between LSS and GHQ-12 scores. Significant changes occurred in total LSS scores as a result of relapse and nonrelapse. The improvement in LSS scores associated with nonrelapse was larger than the deterioration that accompanied relapse. In those subjects who did not relapse to heavy drinking, the mean follow-up score remained in the poor/borderline LSS range. Remission from heavy drinking was accompanied by significant improvements in appetite, sleep, and self-esteem. Relapse to heavy drinking coincided with a significant deterioration in mood/affect, public support, and work/life role scores.
Conclusion: QOL as assessed by the LSS in recently detoxified alcoholics is impaired significantly. In the nonrelapse group, there was a significant improvement in LSS scores after 3 months. Relapse was accompanied by a smaller deterioration in LSS scores. The LSS can play an important role in monitoring the clinical care and progress of alcohol-dependent subjects.