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25.06.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 7/2018 Open Access

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health 7/2018

Chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy: course and prognostic factors of neuropsychological functioning

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health > Ausgabe 7/2018
Evelien van Valen, Ellie Wekking, Moniek van Hout, Gert van der Laan, Gerard Hageman, Frank van Dijk, Angela de Boer, Mirjam Sprangers
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00420-018-1328-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Working in conditions with daily exposure to organic solvents for many years can result in a disease known as chronic solvent-induced encephalopathy (CSE). The aims for this study were to describe the neuropsychological course of CSE after first diagnosis and to detect prognostic factors for neuropsychological impairment after diagnosis.


This prospective study follows a Dutch cohort of CSE patients who were first diagnosed between 2001 and 2011 and underwent a second neuropsychological assessment 1.5–2 years later. Cognitive subdomains were assessed and an overall cognitive impairment score was calculated. Paired t tests and multivariate linear regression analyses were performed to describe the neuropsychological course and to obtain prognostic factors for the neuropsychological functioning at follow-up.


There was a significant improvement on neuropsychological subdomains at follow-up, with effect sizes between small and medium (Cohen’s d 0.27–0.54) and a significant overall improvement of neuropsychological impairment with a medium effect size (Cohen’s d 0.56). Prognostic variables for more neuropsychological impairment at follow-up were a higher level of neuropsychological impairment at diagnosis and having a comorbid diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder at diagnosis.


Results are in line with previous research on the course of CSE, stating that CSE is a non-progressive disease after cessation of exposure. However, during follow-up the percentage patients with permanent work disability pension increased from 14 to 37%. Preventive action is needed in countries where exposure to organic solvents is still high to prevent new cases of CSE.

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