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Positive association of personal distress with testosterone in opiate-addicted patients
08 August 2017 (online)
Clinical studies report that substance addictions are associated with sociocognitive impairments. Regarding opiate-addicted patients, the few existing studies point to deficits in empathic abilities. Previous research suggests that testosterone might be a relevant biomarker of these impairments. The authors aimed to investigate whether opiate-addicted patients show specific impairments in emotional (empathic concern, personal distress) and cognitive empathy compared to healthy controls. Furthermore, the authors aimed to assess possible associations of testosterone levels with impaired empathic abilities in the patients' group.
In this cross-sectional study, 27 opiate-addicted, diacetylmorphine-maintained patients (21 males, age mean 41.67 years, standard deviation 8.814) and 31 healthy controls (23 males, age mean 40.77 years, standard deviation 8.401) matched in age, sex, and educational level were examined. Cognitive and emotional empathy were measured via the German version of the Interpersonal Reactivity Index and salivary testosterone levels were assessed.
The authors found higher personal distress scores (p < 0.01, d = 0.817) and higher testosterone (p < 0.001, d = 1.093) in the patients' group compared to controls. Moreover, a positive correlation was found between testosterone and personal distress among the patients' group (r = 0.399, p < 0.05).
Opiate-addicted patients show specific impairments in emotional empathy, namely higher personal distress, which has clinical implications regarding social cognition rehabilitation and relapse prevention. The current data point toward testosterone as a possible biomarker for these sociocognitive impairments and suggest that high personal distress and high testosterone during withdrawal are possible markers for severe opiate addiction.
[Abstract im Original publiziert in: Stange K, Krüger M, Janke E, Lichtinghagen R, Bleich S, Hillemacher T, Heberlein A. Positive association of personal distress with testosterone in opiate-addicted patients. J Addict Dis 2017;36(3):167 – 74. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10550887.2017.1303980]