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Fals-Stewart Earns Hazelden's 2007 Dan Anderson Research Award

CENTER CITY, Minn., Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- William Fals-Stewart, Ph.D., professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, has earned the 2007 Dan Anderson Research Award for his study that documents the benefits of partner involvement in the treatment of female alcoholics. Sponsored by the Butler Center for Research at Hazelden, the award honors a single published article by a researcher who has advanced the scientific knowledge of addiction recovery.

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Fals-Stewart earned the award for his study, "Learning Sobriety Together: A Randomized Clinical Trial Examining Behavioral Couples Therapy With Alcoholic Female Patients," published in a 2006 issue of Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (Vol. 74, No. 3, pages 579-591). The study found that behavioral couples therapy plus individual alcoholism counseling was significantly more effective in terms of improving outcomes (along different dimensions of drinking behavior and relationships adjustment) than were two other treatment conditions.

"I'm absolutely thrilled to receive the award," said Fals-Stewart, who teamed with Gary R. Birchler, Ph.D., and Michelle L. Kelley, Ph.D., on the study. "This research represents the work of my whole research team. We're very grateful for the recognition."

In his study, Fals-Stewart and colleagues compared behavioral couples therapy (BCT) for married or cohabitating female alcoholics and their nonsubstance-abusing spouses or intimate partners with individual-based treatment only and psychoeducational attention control treatment. One hundred and thirty-eight participants were randomly assigned to one of three 32- session outpatient therapies. In the BCT group, the nonsubstance-abusing partner was an active participant in 12 of the sessions, while partners did not participate in the individual-based treatment and partners in the psychoeducational attention control treatment group attended 12 lectures but were not active participants in therapy. All the female alcoholic subjects attended 20 Twelve Step facilitation sessions by themselves.

At one-year follow-up, female patients who received behavioral couples therapy reported significantly fewer days of drinking and higher rates of relationship satisfaction than patients in the other two groups. What's more, the BCT group reported fewer days of partner violence, in terms of both male- to-female and female-to-male physical aggression.

"We've known that whenever you involve family members in alcoholism treatment, we get better outcomes," said Fals-Stewart. "But the majority of research has been done on male alcoholics and nonsubstance-abusing wives or partners. It's pretty common for women to stay with substance-abusing men. But it's much more common for men to leave relationships with alcoholic women. Because women report that relationship issues are enormously important to them, it makes good sense to study the effects of couples therapy on female alcoholics. There's been a gaping hole in research on alcoholic women. Our study helps fill this void."

Fals-Stewart's study is the first to focus exclusively on the efficacy of behavioral couples therapy for alcoholic women, and it's the first to show greater reductions in partner violence among alcoholic women who received behavior couples therapy compared with other treatments. The latter is especially significant, because substance-abusing women are four times more likely to suffer domestic violence than nonsubstance-abusing women, he said.

"Our selection panel was particularly impressed with Fals-Stewart's study of behavioral couples therapy for women specifically," said Valerie Slaymaker, Ph.D., director of the Butler Center for Research. "His work draws needed attention not only to the treatment needs of women, who are understudied, but to the important role that partner involvement plays in promoting positive outcomes."

Fals-Stewart will accept the award and a $2,000 honorarium in May at the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) annual conference. The award is named for Dan Anderson, Ph.D., the former president of Hazelden and one of the major architects of the Minnesota Model, the interdisciplinary approach to addiction treatment that has been replicated worldwide. Anderson died on Feb. 19, 2003 at age 81.

Fals-Stewart's research was selected as the best from among several outstanding candidates by the 10-member Scientific Panel of the Butler Center for Research. The panel includes Slaymaker; Dennis Donovan, Ph.D., University of Washington; Carlton Erickson, Ph.D., University of Texas-Austin; Lee Ann Kaskutas, Dr.PH, Alcohol Research Group, Emeryville, Calif.; James McKay, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania; Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D., National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, New York; Timothy Sheehan, Ph.D., Hazelden; Candice Walker, Ph.D., Hazelden; Constance Weisner, Ph.D., University of California-San Francisco; and Ken Winters, Ph.D., University of Minnesota.

Past award winners include Rudolph Moos, Ph.D., Department of Veterans Affairs, Palo Alto, Calif.; Reid K. Hester, Ph.D., of Behavior Therapy Associates in Albuquerque; Stephanie O'Malley, Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine; Howard A. Liddle, Ed.D., University of Miami; Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D., University of New Mexico; Bankole Johnson, M.D., University of Texas Health Science Center; Henri Begleiter, Ph.D., State University of New York; Richard Longabaugh, Ed.D., Brown University; Dace Svikis, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University; Michael Fiore, M.D., University of Wisconsin; and Stephen T. Higgins, Ph.D., University of Vermont.

Recognizing outstanding research and conducting research of its own are the primary objectives of the Butler Center for Research, the research arm of Hazelden.

About the Hazelden Foundation

Hazelden Foundation, founded in 1949, is a national nonprofit organization that helps people reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction. With nearly 60 years of knowledge and experience, Hazelden offers a comprehensive approach to addiction that addresses the full range of patient, family, and professional needs, including treatment and continuing care for youth and adults, research, higher learning, public education and advocacy, and publishing.

SOURCE Hazelden Foundation
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