What Do Women Want? Alcohol Treatment Choices, Treatment Entry and Retention

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Study aims were to assess preferences for individual or conjoint treatment, differences between women with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) selecting each modality, and the impact on treatment entry and retention of providing a choice of treatments. During initial screening, women with AUDs in an intimate relationship with a male partner were given the choice of individual or conjoint treatment. After choosing a treatment modality and completing all assessments they entered one of two randomized trials testing different approaches to each treatment modality. Standardized measures were used to assess drinking quantity, frequency, and problems; motivation to change; and relationship satisfaction. Women's reasons for choice of treatment modality were coded using an iterative coding process. Results showed that women were more likely to select and follow through with individual than conjoint treatment. Women cited a desire to work on individual problems, lack of perceived support from their partner, and logistical issues as reasons for preferring individual treatment. Women in the two choice groups did not differ significantly on individual, partner, or relationship characteristics, but small to medium effect sizes suggested that women choosing individual treatment were more educated and less satisfied with their relationship, had fewer pretreatment heavy drinking days, and heavier drinking partners. Offering women a choice of treatment modality increased the probability of entering treatment, but not treatment attendance. Results suggest that barriers to couple therapy for women with AUDs need to be addressed to facilitate more widespread dissemination. Given women's preferences, it also is important to offer a range of treatments.

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