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The role of gendered conceptions in treatment seeking for alcohol problems

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Scand J Caring Sci; 2008; 22; 196–202The role of gendered conceptions in treatment seeking for alcohol problems

The aim of this study was to explore the inducements for treatment-seeking for alcohol problems in women and men. Specifically we wanted to identify what promoted or hindered treatment-seeking in women and men, respectively, and to what extent femininity and masculinity was reflected in the context of treatment seeking. Data was obtained from open interviews with five women and seven men within a month after their first entry into alcohol treatment. A content analysis was performed using gender as the sorting factor. Promoting factors for treatment seeking in men were characterized by belief in their own capability, and looking to the future; whereas the women placed importance on pressure from someone significant, and sharing the problem with others. Hindrances for both women and men were feelings of shame and the significant role alcohol had in their lives. The women perceived alcohol problems as incompatible with femininity, and this made them avoid talking openly about their problems, which hence hindered treatment seeking. These findings showed that the value of alcohol as a gendered symbol still exists, which could be perceptible in promoting and hindering factors for treatment seeking in women and men. These factors could be useful to consider by professionals both in the primary healthcare system and in the social services. Future research should address treatment seeking in relation to both cultural and gendered constructions and their influence on the perceptions and behaviour of women and men with alcohol problems.

Keywords: feminist research; gender; mental health; qualitative approaches; substance abuse

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2008-06-01

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