A better understanding of the relationship between treatment-seeking for alcohol problems and personality traits could give useful insight in factors promoting or hindering treatment for alcohol use disorders (AUD). The aim of this study was to analyze the associations between treatment-seeking for AUD, personality traits, and psychiatric co-morbidity in women. The study was based on pooled cross-sectional data from three population based samples and one clinical sample (n = 1,339). Comparisons were made between treated and untreated women with AUD, and between those with resolved and unresolved AUD.
A stepwise logistic regression model showed that treatment-seeking for AUD was not associated with personality traits. Among women with lifetime AUD (n = 217), those who had been treated (n = 42) had significantly higher scores than untreated women (n = 175) on three personality traits of the Karolinska Scales of Personality (KSP); somatic anxiety, muscular tension, and guilt. Women with resolved AUD, who had received treatment (n = 23) had significantly higher scores on scales measuring somatic anxiety, psychic anxiety, muscular tension, irritability, and guilt than untreated women with resolved AUD. The latter group resembled women without AUD on most personality traits. There were no differences in occurrence of lifetime psychiatric disorders between the treated and the untreated women, whereas treated women with current AUD had increased risk of lifetime anxiety (OR: 3.1, 95% CI: 1.1–8.7).
Treatment-seeking was not associated with personality traits in this study. Still, it can be concluded that women with resolved AUD who had received treatment had high scores on the KSP-scales measuring psychic and somatic anxiety, tension, irritability, and feelings of guilt. This suggests that personality assessment might be a useful tool in tailoring individual treatment programs for women with AUD. Future studies need to explore if women who do not seek treatment have special needs which are not met in usual treatment settings.