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Life situation when your partner has substance use problems

Bente Birkeland at the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences has submitted her thesis entitled “Life situation when your partner has substance use problems: Quality of life and everyday experiences” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Monday 26 August 2019.

Health- and social services should, to a much greater extent, include partners in times of treatment and follow-up of patients with substance use problems.

Bente Birkeland

PhD candidate and Assistant Professor

Bente Birkeland at the Faculty of Health and Sport Sciences has submitted her thesis entitled “Life situation when your partner has substance use problems: Quality of life and everyday experiences” and will defend the thesis for the PhD-degree Monday 26 August 2019.

She has followed the PhD programme in Health and Sport Sciences, and executed the majority of the work while she was employed in a shared position between two units at Sørlandet Hospital; Childen’s Best Interest (BarnsBeste), and Department for Addiction treatment (ARA, avdeling for rus- og avhengighetsbehandling). These two units commonly funded the PhD project, with some support for operational costs covered by the Norwegian Directorate of Health.

Birkeland worked as a clinician at ARA from 1998 to 2008, when she became the Educational Leader at ARA Research Unit. From 2013 to 2016 she was the local coordinator for a multicenter study taking place at Sørlandet Hospital and five additional Norwegian hospitals. At the same time, she was also the local project manager for a qualitative study on living conditions among relatives to persons with substance use problems, directed by the Norwegian Directorate of Health. Data from these two projects are included in the thesis.

Summary of the thesis by Bente Birkeland:

The difficult situation when your partner has substance use problems

The overall aim of Bente Birkeland’s thesis was to investigate the life situation of partners to persons with substance use problems, in which quality of life and everyday experiences were main topics.

The thesis consists of three studies with different designs; a survey, a knowledge summary, and a qualitative study with personal interviews, respectively. To get a comprehensive understanding of the results from the three studies, the results were analyzed, collated, and summarized using mixed methods in the thesis.

The entire life situation is affected

The thesis shows first and foremost that the entire life situation is affected when being a partner to a person with substance use problems, both in terms of quality of life and everyday experiences, especially concerning the parenting role.

Getting a distance to the substance use problems seems to have great importance of improving the life situation for the partners.

To cope with the massive strains and dilemmas these partners experience, they need help and support. However, many partners find it difficult to as for such support in fear of being stigmatized.

Partners must be included in times of treatment and follow-up

Health- and social services should, to a much greater extent, include partners in times of treatment and follow-up of patients with substance use problems.

The partners should especially receive a special focus when they are parents to minor children.

Further, the partners should be provided with information about support groups.

Relatives should also be included in the new national guidelines for research-based measures.

Further studies are needed among partners who are also parents, since a life situation that includes substance use problems in their partner might complicate their parenting role.

 

Disputation facts:

The Candidate: Bente Birkeland (1962 Kristiansand) holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Agder University College (HiA, 2001), and an additional specialization in Substance Abuse Treatment from Samverkan Gruppen in Sweden (2004). Her master’s degree is in Psychosocial Work specializing in Substance Abuse/Addiction, given by University of Oslo (2012). She is employed as an Assistant Professor at the University of Agder (UiA), Faculty for Health and Sports Sciences, Department for Psychosocial Health, since 1 March 2019.

The trial lecture and the public defence will take place at Auditorium C2 040, Campus Grimstad, Monday 26 August 2019.

Head of the Department of Psychosocial Health, Associate Professor Siri Håvås Haugland, will chair the disputation.

Trial lecture at 10:15 a.m.

Public defense at 12:30 p.m.

Given topic for trial lecture"Explain and discuss relevant theory to the understanding of how and why substance use problems affect your partner" ("Gjør rede for og diskuter relevant teori til forståelse av hvordan og hvorfor rusproblemer påvirker partner."

Thesis Title: “Life situation when your partner has substance use problems: Quality of life and everyday experiences”

Search for the thesis in AURA - Agder University Research Archive, a digital archive of scientific papers, theses and dissertations from the academic staff and students at the University of Agder. The thesis will also be available at the University Library, and some copies will also be available for loan at the auditorium where the disputation takes place.

Opponents:

First opponent: Psychologist, PhD, Helle Lindgaard, former employee at. Aarhus University, Department of Psychology and Behavioural Sciences, Centre for Alcohol and Drug Research

Second opponent: Associate Professor Rune Mentzoni, University of Bergen

Professor Emeritus Dagfin Ulland, University of Agder, is appointed as the administrator for the assessment commitee.

Supervisors were Senior Researcher Bente M. Weimand, R&D-Department for Mental Health Care at Akershus University Hospital and Faculty of Health Sciences, Department of Nursing and Health Promotion (main supervisor) and Senior Researcher Torleif Ruud, R&D-Department for Mental Health Care at Akershus University Hospital and Professor Emeritus at Division of Health Services Research and psychiatry, University of Oslo, and Professor Magnhild M. Høie, Department of Psychososial Health, University of Agder, (co-supervisors)