The Personal Network Interview As Intervention for Women With Substance Dependence
Methods: Study participants were recruited from a larger NIDA funded longitudinal study that used a computer software program, EgoNet, to assess the characteristics of women’s personal networks at four time-points-one week, one month, six months, and one year following treatment intake. Six focus groups were conducted at three agencies currently enrolled in the larger study, three groups of agency clinicians (N=21) and three groups of women in treatment from each agency (N=17). The following questions were examined: 1. In what ways did completing the personal network interview help you to understand your personal network better?; and 2. What kind of people are important in a social network for women in treatment? Participants were also shown a personal network map generated by EgoNet and asked to evaluate its potential usefulness as part of an intervention. Responses were audio taped and transcribed verbatim. Thematic analysis guided the data coding and two coders used an iterative process to identify major themes.
Results: Participants reported that their personal network interviews had increased their understanding of multiple aspects of their networks, including the supports they did have, the actual individuals with whom they had consistent contact, the quality of those relationships, and the direction of help in these relationships-whether one sided or reciprocal. Awareness of their ability to make choices in relationships was also identified as an important outcome of their network interviews. Important qualities in network relationships included reciprocity, mutual trust, positive influences beyond sobriety, and honesty.
Implications: These findings suggest the potential usefulness of personal network interviews as one facet of intervention for women with substance dependence. Effective interventions with this population might include psycho-education on the structure and uses of personal networks, a tool for monitoring network change over time, and interpersonal skill building. Future research might develop and evaluate the effectiveness of social network interventions to long-term recovery for women with substance dependence.