Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

David Stein


David Stein


It has been argued that individuals receiving traditional alcohol treatment do not necessarily perceive life-long abstinence from alcohol as a favorable treatment outcome, and that negative expectations associated with this abstinence goal may have an adverse effect on treatment outcome. However, "abstinence expectancies" have never been systematically explored. This study used the Theory of Planned Behavior to investigate the relationship between the abstinence outcome expectancies of alcoholics beginning treatment and subsequent alcohol consumption. The independent and combined effects of abstinence outcome expectancies, alcohol outcome expectancies, self-efficacy expectancies (to abstain from alcohol use), and the normative beliefs of individuals beginning inpatient abstinence-oriented alcohol treatment were related to level of drinking during the 90 days following treatment.

One hundred ten individuals receiving inpatient alcohol treatment were recruited for the main portion of this study. A questionnaire that included belief-based measures of attitude toward alcohol and abstinence, a belief-based measure of social normative pressure to either use or abstain from alcohol, a belief-based measure of one's perceived behavioral control to abstain from alcohol, and a measure of behavioral intention to use alcohol during the 3 months following treatment was developed for use in this study. The questionnaire was administered to all subjects. During the 90-day Follow-Up period, subjects were sent brief questionnaires and asked to report any alcohol or drug use. Eighty-nine percent of the subjects provided follow-up information for the first 30 days, while 76% provided information for the entire 90 days.

An analysis of the data indicated that scores obtained from the belief-based measure of perceived behavioral control and scores from the belief-based measure of attitude toward abstinence were moderately correlated with intention to abstain from alcohol, while alcohol attitude scores and subjective norm scores were uncorrelated. Contrary to expectations, scores obtained from a measure of intention to use alcohol and the measure of perceived behavioral control were minimally predictive of scores from follow-up measures of drinking. However, intention and perceived behavioral control scores were somewhat more predictive of drug use for the 90-day Follow-Up period. These results were discussed in light of the Theory of Planned Behavior and the similarities between alcohol expectancies and drug expectancies.



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