Optimal neurocognitive, personality and behavioral measures for assessing impulsivity in cocaine dependence

Christian Lobue, C. Munro Cullum, Jacqueline Braud, Robrina Walker, Theresa Winhusen, Prabha Suderajan, Bryon Adinoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Background: Impulsivity may underlie the poor treatment retention and high relapse rates observed in cocaine-dependent persons. However, observed differences in measures of impulsivity between cocaine-dependent and healthy control participants often do not reach clinical significance, suggesting that the clinical relevance of these differences may be limited. Objectives: To examine which measures of impulsivity (i.e. self-report impulsivity, self-report personality, neurocognitive testing) best distinguish cocaine-dependent and healthy control participants (i.e. showing differences at least 1.5 standard deviations [SD] from controls). Optimal measures were considered to demonstrate sufficient classification accuracy. Methods: Sixty-five recently abstinent cocaine-dependent and 25 healthy control participants were assessed using select neurocognitive tests and self-report questionnaires including the NEO Personality Inventory-Revised (NEO-PI-R), Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI), Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-11a), and the Frontal Systems Behavior Scale (FrSBe). Results: When corrected for years of education and gender, neurocognitive measures did not demonstrate clinically significant differences between cocaine-dependent and control participants. The personality measures TCI Purposefulness and Congruent Second Nature and NEO-PI-R Impulsiveness, and the self-rating measures FrSBe Disinhibition and BIS-11 Motor Impulsivity and Total successfully identified clinically meaningful elevations in impulsivity within cocaine-dependent participants (>1.5 SDs from controls). Furthermore, these measures achieved 84-93% accuracy in discriminating cocaine-dependent from control participants. Conclusion: Clinically significant neurocognitive impairment in cocaine-dependent participants was not observed in this sample. As the BIS-11 or FrSBe are brief to administer, accurate, and have been shown to predict treatment retention and relapse, these measures appear to be optimal, relative to the personality measures, for examining trait impulsivity in cocaine dependence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)455-462
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • BIS-11
  • Cocaine dependence
  • FrSBe
  • Impulsivity
  • Neurocognitive

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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