Recent Finnish register study explores criminal behaviour in alcohol-related dementia and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome


A recent paper by Anniina Palm and colleagues studied alcohol-related brain disorders like Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcohol-related dementia. Despite the data that shows a strong link between alcohol and crime, almost no research exists on the criminal behaviour of people living with these conditions. Therefore, this study aimed to gain further insights into the complex relationship between alcohol-related cognitive impairments, i.e. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and alcohol-related dementia, and criminality. The included data focused on people diagnosed with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (n=1149) or alcohol-related dementia (n=2432) in Finland between the years 1998 and 2015. 

The data on diagnoses, mortality, and type of committed crimes were obtained from Finnish nationwide registers and compared to the general population in Finland. The crime rates were looked up before and after diagnosis. 35.6% of people with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and 23.6% of people with alcohol-related dementia committed crimes (e.g. property offences, traffic offences, violent crimes). In both cases after diagnosis, the crime rates decreased significantly. The crime rates declined linearly in the four years before and after diagnosis, with a marked reduction post-diagnosis. The study was published in the journal European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience. To learn more about the paper, follow the link: