Factors associated with women achieving and maintaining abstinence from alcohol: a rapid evidence assessment

Sally Marlow, Daniel Stahl, Gail Gilchrist*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to review the literature on the factors related to women’s ability to achieve and maintain abstinence from alcohol. Design/methodology/approach: A rapid evidence assessment was carried out in four stages: definitions and research questions were agreed, search and selection were completed, data were extracted, quality of studies was assessed, and findings were synthesised and presented. Findings: Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL and ASSIA were searched for cohort studies published in English during January 2000–February 2015. Expanded search terms for Women, Alcohol and Abstinence, and Cohort were used to identify relevant studies for inclusion, resulting in 1,040 records. Of these, 32 manuscripts from 31 studies were eligible for inclusion in the review. Alcohol-related factors such as increased quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption were related to lower likelihood of achieving and maintaining abstinence; treatment factors such as type of treatment and number of treatment episodes were related to higher and lower likelihood; demographic factors such as financial problems and poor housing status were related to lower likelihood; and psychological factors such as craving, other drug use and comorbid health problems were linked to lower likelihood. Originality/value: To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first time the factors related to the specific outcome of abstinence in women have been synthesised. Many of the factors found are also known to contribute to vulnerability for developing alcohol problems. The review revealed the paucity of studies with female only samples, or where results for women were reported separately.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-172
Number of pages12
JournalAdvances in Dual Diagnosis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2019


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol abstinence
  • Rapid evidence assessment
  • Relapse
  • Relapse prevention
  • Women


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