GENder-Sensitive Treatment and prevention services for Alcohol and drug use Rs

15 December 2015 → 15 December 2017
Federal funding: various
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Orthopedagogical assessment and diagnostics
    • Orthopedagogical interventions
    • Orthopedagogics and special education not elsewhere classified
alcohol drug women gender treatment prevention
Project description

The project is structured around six workpackages:

First, existing initiatives specifically targeted at (single-gender) or addressing women's needs (mixed-gender) throughout

the continuum of care in Belgium will be mapped and compared with available practices abroad (via EMCDDA best

practice portal). All alcohol and drug services in Belgium will be sent a short e-mail questionnaire to identify their services.

Next, semi-structured interviews (approx. 30) with the project coordinators of all identified organisations offering single- or

mixed gender-sensitive services will give more detailed information on the services offered. To measure to which extent

programs offer gender-sensitive services a standardized instrument (based on the literature review) will be used in the


Second, to identify good practices of gender-sensitive approaches for female substance users the international peerreviewed

literature will be reviewed. Also, the EMCDDA 'best practice' portal will be consulted as well as European

national focal points on drugs and drug addiction to monitor specific interventions for women regarding prevention,

treatment or harm reduction.

Third, female substance users' experiences and perspectives on good practices and barriers regarding alcohol and drug

prevention and treatment will be explored by means of semi-structured in-depth interviews. The research team aims to

recruit at least 60 female substance users (30 in Flanders, 10 in Brussels and 20 in Wallonia) with alcohol and/or drug

problems from specialised (women only) services, as well as non-specialised services addressing the target population and

specialised mixed-gender alcohol and drug services. After the first contacts with female substance users have been made, a

strategy of snowball sampling will be adopted as a method to reach and find so-called hidden populations.

Fourth, quantitative data for Belgium are further analyzed to assess the 'gender gap' in national population and treatment

samples. Several existing databases will be analyzed: The Belgian Health Interview survey, the school surveys in Flanders

(VAD), the Belgian branch of the Global Drug Survey, the VAD nightlife survey, the Treatment Demand Indicator (TOI)

register and UGent-data on the evaluation of alcohol treatment programs in psychiatric hospitals. Data from these sources

will be analysed, compared and integrated in a comprehensive and coherent way to estimate the extent of the 'gender

gap' in population and treatment samples in Belgium appropriately.

Fifth, the research team wants to explore experts; opinions regarding necessary services and programs for female substance

users and prerequisites for implementing these services. In 4 focus groups (one on prevention, early intervention and harm

reduction; one on treatment and continuity of care; two focus groups in Dutch, two in French) involving various

stakeholders (service providers, practitioners, service users, ... ) who are familiar with the needs and expectations of female

substance users, the challenges and obstacles will be discussed. During the focus groups, the team will use the CPS

brainstormkit as a structural method to structure the brainstorm and to formulate specific recommendations for developing

and implementing more gender sensitive approaches.

Finally, the findings will be integrated into coherent and grounded recommendations. Based on the findings from the five

work packages, conclusions will be formulated regarding the accessibility of alcohol and drug services for women a'nd the

availability ·of gender-sensitive alcohol and drug demand reduction in Belgium. Also, suggestions and recommendations

for improving the accessibility of services and making them more gender-sensitive will be proposed, primarily based on

service users' perspectives. Particular attention will be paid to prevention and harm reduction initiatives and other services

along the continuum of care which now pay little attention to female substance users' needs. Policy recommendations will

be suggested to promote 'gender sensitivity' as an important point of interest when shaping and creating services. Besides

the publication of a research report and specific (peer-reviewed) papers, the results of the GEN-STAR study will be

valorized during presentations at national and international fora, a project symposium and through web-based tools and