Interventions in adult children and spouses of alcoholics. Randomized controlled trials of mental health and drinking patterns

Detta är en avhandling från Clinical Alcohol Research, Department of Health Sciences, Lund University

Sammanfattning: Randomized studies of various support programs for spouses and children of alcoholics are few in the international literature. This thesis comprises two randomized controlled studies of intervention programs for two family groups: spouses living with an alcoholics partner (paper I and II) and university students who have grown up with at least one parents with alcohol problems (paper III and IV). Follow-ups of the intervention programs were performed after 12 and 24 months respectively, at which the effects of the programs in each study were evaluated.
In the first study, 39 spouses of alcoholics were randomized into one of three interventions: standard information, individual coping skills training or group support.
At the 12-month follow-up, all three groups had improved their coping styles, and their mental symptoms were reduced. There were tendencies of larger improvements in mental symptoms in the individual coping skills training and the group support groups compared with the standard information group. The 24-month follow-up showed that changes in mental symptoms (SCL-90) were significantly larger in the group support and coping skills training groups than in the control group. The major improvements in coping behavior, hardship and mental symptoms occurred in the first year. The stability of improvements achieved after one year was generally good.
In the second study, 82 university students with at least one parent with alcohol problems were randomized into one of three programs: alcohol intervention, coping intervention and a combination of alcohol and coping intervention. The duration per session was identical in all three programs: two hours on two occasions with one month between.
The 12 months follow-up showed that the groups receiving alcohol intervenion (the alcohol intervention program and the combination program) improved their drinking pattern significantly more than the group not receiving alcohol intervention.
No changes in coping behavior were evident. At the 24-month follow-up, the results showed that participants who had received both alcohol and coping intervention had improved their alcohol behavior more in the second follow-up year than those participants who had only received alcohol intervention or coping intervention. There were no changes in coping variables.
The results documented in the first study constitute one of the few research contributions showing the effects of various types of intervention on spouses. Similarly, intervention studies of adult children of alcoholics are unusual. The current finding that alcohol intervention is effective in reducing alcohol consumption has important preventive aspects. The second-year improvement in the effect on alcohol consumption by the combined alcohol and coping intervention is important both theoretically as well as practically.