Send to

Choose Destination
J Stud Alcohol. 2001 Jul;62(4):518-27.

Meta-Analysis of social relationships and posttreatment drinking outcomes: comparison of relationship structure, function and quality.

Author information

Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, Berkeley, California 94709, USA.



Alcoholism treatment programs are recognizing the importance of social relationships by addressing interpersonal as well as intrapersonal factors in treatment. This shift in treatment orientation is occurring, however, in the absence of extensive information on the magnitude of the relationship between interpersonal factors and drinking outcomes. This article examines the association between alcoholism treatment drinking outcomes and social relationships.


Studies of the relationship between drinking outcomes and social relationships reported from 1965 to 1996 were coded for inclusion in this study. Analysis was a conceptually based meta-analytic review and synthesis of some of these findings. Through illustration, the manner in which components of social relationships (structure, function and quality) are associated with drinking outcomes was analyzed.


Marital status, a structural construct, was less strongly correlated with drinking outcomes (average r = 0. 11) than was social support, a functional construct (average r = 0.22) or marital and family adjustment, a construct indicative of quality (average r = 0.17). Marital status was more strongly related to drinking outcomes for men than for women, whereas having significant others in treatment predicted stronger relationships between drinking outcomes and both social support and marital/family adjustment for both genders.


The effect of social relationships on drinking outcomes is variable, inconsistent and weak. That this is not the case for some subpopulations and constructs encourages us to continue the examination of these complex interrelationships.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Dartmouth Journal Services
Loading ...
Support Center