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The key issue addressed in this paper is: Can specific subtypes of drinkers be identified on the basis of their neuropsychological performance? A multivariate model of neuropsychological deficits related to alcohol abuse was proposed and cluster analysis was used to see if subtypes could be identified which matched those indicated in the multivariate model. A neuropsychological cognitive assessment battery was given to a wide variety of drinkers (N = 88). Factor analysis yielded scores on four factors which formed the basis for the cluster analysis. Seven stable clusters were identified based on cognitive performance alone. Additionally, clusters were significantly differentiated by age, IQ, education, number of units of alcohol consumed on a heavy drinking day, nutritional status, stress and the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Lie score. The seven clusters were eventually profiled as healthy males, healthy females, males with stress-related deficits, females with stress-related deficits, mildly impaired males, deficits related to liver dysfunction and mild alcoholic Korsakoff syndrome. The clusters successfully mapped onto the proposed model reinforcing the need for a multivariate approach to the study of neuropsychological deficits in problem drinkers.

Original publication




Journal article


The British journal of clinical psychology

Publication Date





483 - 498


School of Psychology, Queen's University of Belfast, UK.


Humans, Alcohol Amnestic Disorder, Alcoholism, Cluster Analysis, Intelligence, Neuropsychological Tests, Age Factors, Sex Factors, Adult, Middle Aged, Educational Status, Female, Male