Psychological interventions with families of alcohol misusers: a systematic review

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26 Citations (SciVal)


Aims: To review the literature on psychological interventions for families affected by alcohol misuse, with a focus on outcomes for family members.
Methods: A comprehensive and systematic literature review. A detailed search strategy was developed and implemented with no date, language or time restrictions. Two reviewers screened all identified titles and abstracts, and then independently assessed the eligibility and quality of all potential studies. The studies were analysed according to whether or not the alcohol misuser was involved in the primary intervention under investigation and analysed thematically.
Results: Forty-three publications (34 studies) were included in the review. All were in English, covered the period 1979–2009, were mainly published articles in peer review journals and included 2500–3000 family members. Research with female family members (particularly spouses or partners), and ‘white’ family members dominated. The included studies show how the field has moved from primarily focussing on how family members can engage and support the user through treatment to adopting a wider holistic focus which considers the needs of family members in their own right. Studies in both categories demonstrated positive outcomes for family members across a range of domains.
Conclusions: Adopting a broader review methodology has brought a fuller understanding of a field where few such reviews have been conducted, and offers direction for future research. Further work is needed in terms of broadening the reach of such interventions and embedding them more firmly into routine therapeutic practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)616-648
Number of pages33
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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