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Addiction. 2000 Oct;95(10):1537-49.

Maritally distressed women with alcohol problems: the impact of a short-term alcohol-focused intervention on drinking behaviour and marital satisfaction.

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School of Applied Psychology, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia.



To evaluate the efficacy of a short-term alcohol-focused intervention for maritally distressed women, and to explore changes in relationship functioning.


Participants were assigned randomly to an alcohol-focused treatment or to a waiting-list control group. The waiting-list control group began the intervention at 1-month follow-up.


The intervention took place at a research and training centre offering outpatient psychology services to the community.


A sample of 32 women with alcohol and marital problems were recruited through the media. Participants reported protracted alcohol problems, moderate to severe impact of alcohol on social and occupational functioning, and moderate to severe marital distress.


Measures of average alcohol consumption, marital distress, relational efficacy and depression were administered at pre- and post-therapy, and at 1, 6 and 12-month follow-up.


The intervention involved six 1-hour sessions, consisting of clinical assessment, motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioural strategies and relapse prevention.


At 1-month follow-up, the intervention was associated with statistically significant improvements in alcohol consumption, marital satisfaction, relational efficacy and depression, and these effects were sustained at 12-month follow-up.


At 1-month follow-up the intervention was associated with decreased alcohol consumption and depression, and increased marital satisfaction and relational efficacy, with evidence of maintained effects at 12-month follow-up. However, it is unlikely that reduced problem drinking and improved confidence in resolving problems were the only factors producing low marital quality in these couples. Further research is needed to identify those individuals who might benefit from marital interventions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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