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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2007 Jan 5;86(1):1-21. Epub 2006 Jun 8.

Substance abuse treatment entry, retention, and outcome in women: a review of the literature.

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  • 1McLean Hospital, 115 Mill Street, Belmont, MA 02478, USA. shelly_greenfield@hms.harvard.edu

Abstract

This paper reviews the literature examining characteristics associated with treatment outcome in women with substance use disorders. A search of the English language literature from 1975 to 2005 using Medline and PsycInfo databases found 280 relevant articles. Ninety percent of the studies investigating gender differences in substance abuse treatment outcomes were published since 1990, and of those, over 40% were published since the year 2000. Only 11.8% of these studies were randomized clinical trials. A convergence of evidence suggests that women with substance use disorders are less likely, over the lifetime, to enter treatment compared to their male counterparts. Once in treatment, however, gender is not a significant predictor of treatment retention, completion, or outcome. Gender-specific predictors of outcome do exist, however, and individual characteristics and treatment approaches can differentially affect outcomes by gender. While women-only treatment is not necessarily more effective than mixed-gender treatment, some greater effectiveness has been demonstrated by treatments that address problems more common to substance-abusing women or that are designed for specific subgroups of this population. There is a need to develop and test effective treatments for specific subgroups such as older women with substance use disorders, as well as those with co-occurring substance use and psychiatric disorders such as eating disorders. Future research on effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of gender-specific versus standard treatments, as well as identification of the characteristics of women and men who can benefit from mixed-gender versus single-gender treatments, would advance the field.

PMID:
16759822
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3532875
Free PMC Article
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