Group drug counseling is the primary treatment modality used to treat drug dependence in community settings in the United States. Findings from the social psychology literature suggest that gender may influence how individuals participate in groups, and that race may moderate the effects of gender on group behavior. This study examined gender, race, and their interaction as predictors of alliance, participation, self-disclosure, and receipt of advice and feedback in drug counseling groups, and explored how gender and racial differences in drug counseling group behavior related to outcome of cocaine dependence treatment.
Ratings of group behavior were made from videotaped sessions of group drug counseling drawn from a randomized trial of treatment for cocaine-dependent individuals (n = 438). Analyses examined the effects of race (African American vs. non-Hispanic White), gender, and race by gender on group behavior. Additional analyses examined race, gender, and group behavior, and interactions among these variables in predicting monthly cocaine use.
Race and the race by gender interaction, but not gender alone, predicted many group behaviors. Non-Hispanic White women had the highest rates of self-disclosure and receipt of advice and non-positive feedback, followed by men of both races, with African American women having the lowest levels. These differences were unrelated to cross-sectional cocaine outcome.
Women, but not men, of different races acted differently in mixed-race, mixed-gender cocaine treatment groups, with African American women exhibiting less of several behaviors. Additional research on causes and consequences of these differences could inform interventions for drug-dependent women.