Factors affecting psychologists' decisions to treat persons with substance use disorders

Ralph Peter Balducci, Fordham University

Abstract

The high lifetime prevalence rates of substance use disorders and the increased potential for co-occurring (comorbid) psychiatric illnesses are major problems facing psychologists. Recently, psychological treatments involving cognitive-behavioral principles have emerged that are promising new approaches to substance abuse treatment. Psychologists have begun to take a leading role in developing these strategies and in conducting research to determine the effectiveness of these treatments. Research has shown that clinical psychology graduate school training in substance abuse has not significantly changed over the past two decades. Additionally, few members of the American Psychological Association identify themselves as having a specialty interest in the field of addictions. This study sought to identify some of the differences between psychologists who identified themselves as having a specialty interest in addictions and other psychologists in clinical practice. The goal of this study was to identify some of the factors that might explain psychologists' minimal involvement in this field. Psychologists in clinical practice were identified through the APA Research Office and were selected for their stated primary specialty interest area (addictions versus non-addictions). Psychologists completed a mailed survey which included a demographic questionnaire regarding training, education, and experience with treating substance use disorders, and a treatment decisions questionnaire which referred to a specific clinical vignette. The results of this study suggested that there was a significant association between psychologists' training, education, and experience with substance use disorders and their perceived competence and comfort with treating substance use disorders, and view of the client as motivation for treatment and open to the psychologists' treatment recommendations. These findings suggested that psychologists' lack of training, education, and experience with substance use disorders may have resulted in their holding a more negative view of such clients. Psychologists in the addictions field and graduate school training programs must do more to disseminate information regarding effective treatments for substance use disorders. The high lifetime prevalence rates of substance use disorders and the severe biopsychosocial consequences of untreated substance use disorders exact too high a cost on individuals and society for psychologists to continue to show only a minor interest in this field. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Public Health|Psychology, Clinical

Recommended Citation

Ralph Peter Balducci, "Factors affecting psychologists' decisions to treat persons with substance use disorders" (January 1, 1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9926904.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9926904

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