Best practice models are calling for a holistic, needs-led, and sex-informed treatment approach to substance misuse treatment. To date, research into the impact of sex on needs and quality of life within methadone-treatment populations using validated research tools is limited.
The aim of the study was to evaluate the impact of sex upon self-rated unmet need and quality of life among people on methadone treatment.
Cross-sectional survey of adults attending a specialist methadone treatment clinic, in Dublin, Ireland. Participants completed the Camberwell Assessment of Need Short Appraisal Schedule, Patient Version and the WHO Quality of Life—Brief Version. Ongoing drug use was determined using the Maudsley Addiction Profile and weekly supervised urine toxicology screens. A linear regression analysis was conducted.
One hundred eight of 190 eligible service-users (57%) participated. No significant differences existed between the participants and the nonparticipants on demographic variables or measures of drug use. Among them, 33% were women. Women demonstrated lower levels of ongoing opiate use. Linear regression analysis indicated that women had a greater number of unmet needs (P = 0.02) and lower quality of life in the domains of physical health (P = 0.003), psychological well being (P < 0.001), environmental well being (P = 0.03), and social relationships (P = 0.007). When the Bonferroni adjustment was applied to account for multiple testing, the relationship between psychological well being and female sex remained statistically significant.
Our study suggests that female sex may be associated with greater self-rated needs and poorer quality of life within a methadone-treated population, in particular, in the domain of psychological well being. Further research in this area is warranted to discover if these findings can be replicated and confirmed in larger samples.