Title

EFFECTS OF SOCIAL LEARNING AND ILLNESS MODELS OF ALCOHOL ABUSE ON HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIOR

Date of Completion

January 1986

Keywords

Psychology, Clinical

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Eighty-five percent of severe alcohol abusers never receive treatment for their problem. This study compared the effects of Social Learning and Illness models of alcohol abuse on facilitating acknowledgement of a problem and encouraging attitudes and behaviors that might lead to seeking treatment. It was hypothesized that the Social Learning model, emphasizing the psychosocial factors of alcohol abuse, would more effectively facilitate appropriate help-seeking attitudes.^ College students who reported high and moderate alcohol abuse were educated in one of these models. Independent variables included subsequent questionnaire responses and unobtrusive behavioral measures. Prior alcohol beliefs were found to be easily manipulated and impacted minimally on the findings. Evidence suggested that Subjects educated in the Social Learning model were better able to acknowledge that they were too dependent on alcohol and that they would have difficulty cutting down their drinking.^ Illness subjects were found to be more willing to admit needing help and less embarrassed about seeking treatment; less inclined to assign fault to the abuser; and more interested in considering seeking further information. More educational brochures and announcements for an upcoming seminar were also taken by Illness subjects. Post hoc analyses consistently supported the superiority of the Illness model in encouraging help-seeking.^ To explain the superiority of the Illness model in encouraging more adaptive help-seeking attitudes, intentions, and behaviors, it was suggested that the Illness model was less threatening to one's self-esteem, was a simpler construct to understand, and aroused more motivating fear. Future research should address the value of the Social Learning model in facilitating the acknowledgement of a drinking problem and test these findings in appropriate populations. ^