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Impulsivity And Attentional Bias As Predictors Of Modafinil Treatment Outcome For Retention And Drug Use In Crack-cocaine Dependent Patients: Results Of A Randomised Controlled Trial

Mascha Nuijten, Peter Blanken, Wim Van den Brink, Anna E Goudriaan, Vincent M Hendriks

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Background: High impulsivity and attentional bias are common in cocaine-dependent patients and predict poor treatment outcomes. The pharmacological agent modafinil is studied for its cognitive-enhancing capacities and may therefore improve clinical outcomes in crack-cocaine dependent patients. In this study, we investigated first whether pre-treatment impulsivity and attentional bias predict treatment outcome; next whether the drug modafinil given as an add-on treatment to cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) improves impulsivity and attentional bias; and last, whether changes in impulsivity and attentional bias are related to improvements in treatment outcome. Methods: Crack-cocaine dependent outpatients ( n = 65) were randomised to 12 weeks CBT plus modafinil (400 mg/day) or only CBT. Self-reported impulsivity was assessed at baseline using the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale. At baseline and Week 12, we assessed inhibitory control as a behavioural measure of impulsivity, in terms of cognitive interference (Stroop task) and response inhibition (‘stop-signal task’), and attentional bias with the addiction Stroop task. Clinical outcomes were CBT-retention and crack-cocaine use. Results: At baseline, self-reported impulsivity predicted better CBT-retention; low self-reported and behavioural impulsivity and attentional bias predicted less crack-cocaine use. Changes in cognitive performance were not modafinil-related, but most likely due to low adherence. Improvements in impulsivity or attentional bias were not associated with CBT-retention nor changes in crack-cocaine use. Conclusions: Baseline impulsivity and attentional bias predicted clinical outcomes in crack-cocaine dependent patients. There were no firm indications that modafinil reduced impulsivity nor attentional bias in this population. Future studies involving cognitive-enhancing medications should include strategies to optimise adherence, to be better able to evaluate their potential.