History of abuse and drinking outcomes following inpatient alcohol treatment: a prospective study

Shelly F. Greenfield, Harvard Medical School
Monika E. Kolodziej, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Dawn E. Sugarman, McLean Hospital
Larry R. Meunz, Independent Consultant
Lisa M. Vagge, McLean Hospital
David Y. He, Independent Consultant
Roger D. Weiss, Harvard Medical School

At the time of publication, Monika Kolodziej was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.


Little is known about the impact of sexual or physical abuse history on response to alcohol treatment. This prospective study investigated the relationships between sexual and physical abuse histories, participants' characteristics, and response to inpatient alcohol treatment. Forty-one women and 59 men were assessed monthly for 1 year following hospitalization for alcohol dependence. Survival analyses showed that sexual abuse history was associated with shorter times to first drink and relapse. Physical abuse history was not associated with poorer drinking outcomes. Although women were more likely than men to have a history of sexual abuse, no gender differences were found in drinking outcomes. Poorer drinking outcomes were found among participants who at baseline were not married, had less than a college education, were not employed full time, or carried a diagnosis of depression or other psychiatric disorder. When adjusted for these characteristics, the associations between sexual abuse history and times to first drink and relapse were no longer statistically significant. While sexual abuse history is a clinically meaningful predictor of return to drinking we note the importance of considering patients' background and clinical characteristics in examining the impact of sexual abuse history on drinking outcomes following treatment.