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Long-Term Follow-Up of Psychological Distress, Social Functioning, and Coping Style in Treated and Untreated Patients With Solvent-Induced Chronic Toxic Encephalopathy

Åbjörnsson, Gunnel MSocSc; Pålsson, Birgitta MSocSc; Bergendorf, Ulf MSc; Karlson, Björn PhD; Österberg, Kai MSc; Seger, Lena MSc; Ørbæk, Palle MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: September 1998 - Volume 40 - Issue 9 - p 801-807
Original Articles

Patients with organic solvent-induced toxic encephalopathy (TE) (n = 13) were followed up seven years after the application of an intervention program. They were also compared with untreated TE patients diagnosed at the same time (n = 26) and with unexposed referents (n = 39). Psychological distress, social function, and coping ability and style were measured with the Symptom Checklist-90, Interview Schedule of Social Interaction, and Sense of Coherence and Strategies to Handle Stress questionnaires. Both TE groups had unchanged function in neuropsychological tests. Members of the treated group had improved their social functioning and reduced their mental stress but were not any better than the untreated patients. Compared with referents, the TE patients continued to live with increased psychological distress and used predominantly emotionally focused strategies to cope with their problems. This can be a cause for concern in family life and can also make gainful work impossible.

From the Departments of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, University of Lund, Sweden, the Lund University Hospital, Lund, Sweden, and the Malmö University Hospital, Malmö, Sweden.

Address correspondence to: Gunnel Åbjörnsson, MSocSc, Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Malmö University Hospital, S-205 02 Malmö, Sweden.

© Williams & Wilkins 1998. All Rights Reserved.