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01-09-2016 | Uitgave 9/2016 Open Access

Quality of Life Research 9/2016

Perceived quality of life, 6 months after detoxification: Is abstinence a modifying factor?

Quality of Life Research > Uitgave 9/2016
John-Kåre Vederhus, Bente Birkeland, Thomas Clausen



Patients with a substance use disorder (SUD), admitted for detoxification, often suffer from a poor quality of life (QoL). We set out to monitor QoL, together with substance use, in a departure from the usual norm of measuring substance use alone as a treatment outcome. Literature searches revealed scant knowledge of how QoL is influenced. With this in mind, we aimed to investigate whether total abstinence, prior to follow-up, could influence QoL.


We studied a prospective cohort of 140 patients admitted for inpatient detoxification treatment at Sørlandet Hospital (Norway), from September 2008 to August 2010. QoL was measured by a generic five-item questionnaire, the QoL-5. The extremes of this scale ranged from the worst possible rating of 0.1 to 0.9, as the best. A norm for the general population was benchmarked at 0.69. Change in QoL was calculated by subtracting baseline QoL from that achieved at the 6-month follow-up interview; linear regression modeling was used to study the influence of individual QoL predictors.


The mean QoL at baseline was 0.46, 39 % below that of the general reference population. By applying the clinical interpretation of the scale, we found a modest overall mean improvement in QoL at follow-up (0.11 points); the greatest increases were seen for patients with the lowest baseline QoL scores. Abstinence prior to follow-up correlated with improved QoL, while living alone and psychological distress were negative influences.


For patients with a SUD, clinicians should emphasize that abstinence may help to improve their QoL.

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