Traditional treatment programs for substance use disorder (SUD) tend to be male-dominated environments, which can negatively affect women's access to treatment and related outcomes. Women's specific treatment needs have led some providers to develop women-only SUD treatment programs in several countries. In Chile, women-only programs were only fully implemented in 2010. We compared treatment outcomes and readmission risk for adult women admitted to state-funded women-only versus mixed-gender SUD treatment programs in Chile.
We used a registry-based retrospective cohort design of adult women in women-only (N = 8200) and mixed-gender (N = 13,178) SUD treatment programs from 2010 to 2019. The study obtained data from the National Drug and Alcohol Service from Chile. We used a multistate model to estimate the probabilities of experiencing treatment completion, discharge without completion (i.e., patient-initiated discharge and administrative discharge), or readmission, as well as the likelihood of being readmitted, conditioned on prior treatment outcome. We adjusted models for multiple baseline characteristics (e.g., substance use, socioeconomic).
Overall, 24% of women completed treatment and 54% dropped out of treatment. The proportion of patient-initiated discharges within the first three month was larger in women-only than in mixed-gender programs (19% vs. 12%). In both programs, women who completed treatment were more likely to experience readmission at three months, and one and three years. In the long term, women in the women-only programs were more likely to complete treatment than women in mixed-gender programs (34% vs. 23%, respectively). The readmission probability was higher among women who previously completed treatment than those who had a discharge without completion (40% vs 21% among women in women-only programs; 38% vs. 19% among women in mixed-gender programs, respectively); no differences occurred in the risk of readmission between women-only and mixed-gender programs.
In terms of treatment outcomes and readmission risk, women-only programs had similar results to mixed-gender programs in Chile. The added value of these specialized programs should be addressed in further research.