What is Your Attitude: Male and Female Drug Users

Bernadette Pelissier, Federal Bureau of Prisons
Barbara Owen, California State University - Fresno

There is a large body of literature which discusses the gender specific treatment needs of women. Some of the these different treatment needs are supported by research on gender differences among drug users in sociodemographic and other background characteristics such as drug use, employment history, family situation, and psychological disorders. However, there are no studies which systematically examine gender differences in motivations and other attitudinal characteristics. An understanding of similarities and differences in men and women's attitudes at admission to treatment may be helpful to the development of gender-specific programming. This paper provides a profile of gender differences in attitudes and motivations by comparing men and women across several attitudinal measures. This study was completed within the context of a multi-site evaluation of in-prison residential drug treatment programs. The sample of approximately 1,200 men are from 16 treatment programs and the sample of approximately 300 women from 4 treatment programs. Comparisons between men and women are provided for measures of motivation to change, ways of coping, and two measures of self-efficacy - general and drug-specific. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of these gender differences for program recruitment, program design and for measuring treatment effectiveness.

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Updated 05/20/2006