Presence of a family history of alcoholism may predict clinical characteris
tics in affected subjects, such as an earlier age at onset. More frequent a
nd severe social maladjustment and somatic complications are also regularly
cited for familial alcoholism, although subject to many other confusing fa
ctors. We analysed the clinical specificities of 79 alcohol-dependent inpat
ients according to the absence versus presence of family history of alcohol
ism. Patients were evaluated for lifetime psychiatric morbidity with the Di
agnostic Interview for Genetic Studies (DIGS), for somatic complications wi
th a systematic screening list, and first-degree relatives (N = 428) were a
ssessed with the Family Inventory Schedule and Criteria (FISC).
Age at onset and social complications were predicting familial versus spora
dic alcoholism, even when considering censored data and/or interaction betw
een variables. But differences became non-significant when excluding patien
ts with antisocial personality.
If age at onset effectively appears to be the most informative characterist
ic for predicting familial versus sporadic alcoholism, it seems that it may
be necessary in future studies to systematically take into account antisoc
ial personality diagnosis, because of a probable contamination. (C) 2001 Ed
itions scientifiques et medicales Elsevier SAS.