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Applicability of the Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test – Third Edition (RBMT-3) in Korsakoff's syndrome and chronic alcoholics

Authors Wester, van Herten, Egger, Kessels R

Received 8 March 2013

Accepted for publication 9 April 2013

Published 21 June 2013 Volume 2013:9 Pages 875—881


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Arie J Wester,1 Judith C van Herten,2 Jos IM Egger,2–4 Roy PC Kessels1,2,5

1Korsakoff Clinic, Vincent van Gogh Institute for Psychiatry, Venray, The Netherlands; 2Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 3Centre of Excellence for Neuropsychiatry, Vincent van Gogh Institute for Psychiatry, Venray, The Netherlands; 4Behavioral Science Institute, Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands; 5Department of Medical Psychology, Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Purpose: To examine the applicability of the newly developed Rivermead Behavioural Memory Test – Third Edition (RBMT-3) as an ecologically-valid memory test in patients with alcohol-related cognitive disorders.
Patients and methods: An authorized Dutch translation of the RBMT-3 was developed, equivalent to the UK version, and administered to a total of 151 participants – 49 patients with amnesia due to alcoholic Korsakoff's syndrome, 49 patients with cognitive impairment and a history of chronic alcoholism, not fulfilling the Korsakoff criteria, and 53 healthy controls. Between-group comparisons were made at subtest level, and the test's diagnostic accuracy was determined.
Results: Korsakoff patients performed worse than controls on all RBMT-3 subtests (all P-values < 0.0005). The alcoholism group performed worse than controls on most (all P-values < 0.02), but not all RBMT-3 subtests. Largest effects were found between the Korsakoff patients and the controls after delayed testing. The RBMT-3 had good sensitivity and adequate specificity.
Conclusion: The RBMT-3 is a valid test battery to demonstrate everyday memory deficits in Korsakoff patients and non-Korsakoff patients with alcohol abuse disorder. Korsakoff patients showed an impaired performance on subtests relying on orientation, contextual memory and delayed testing. Our findings provide valuable information for treatment planning and adjustment in patients with alcohol-related cognitive impairments.

Keywords: ecological validity, neuropsychological assessment, Korsakoff's syndrome, alcohol-induced persisting amnestic disorder, episodic memory, treatment outcome

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