Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Matthew Feldner

Committee Member

Denise Beike

Second Committee Member

Lindsay Ham

Third Committee Member

Jeffrey Lohr

Keywords

Alcohol Use, Clinical Psychology, Comorbidity, Intervention, Psychoeducation, Trauma

Abstract

Research has suggested that consumption of alcohol in the presence of elevated posttraumatic stress symptom (PTSS) may serve an avoidant function to cope with negative emotions. These coping-related motives for use are theorized to both maintain PTSS and relate to poorer prognoses in treatment for alcohol use disorders (AUDs). Treatments utilizing coping skills training, which typically also involves educating clients about the negative consequences of drinking alcohol to cope, suggest the utility of targeting coping behaviors to reduce alcohol use. These studies, however, have not attempted to isolate the effects of psychoeducation on alcohol-related factors. The current study investigated the utility of providing integrated psychoeducation to modify alcohol use outcomes and also examined, on an a priori basis, the potential moderating impact of biological sex on the effects of psychoeducation. Results demonstrated that psychoeducation addressing PTSS and alcohol use specifically was superior to a general health control condition in improving motivation to change alcohol use behaviors. Confidence to refrain from alcohol and coping-motivated drinking were not significantly influenced by psychoeducation. Finally, biological sex was not demonstrated to have a moderating influence on psychoeducation. Together, results suggest that educating individuals on the impact of PTSS and hazardous alcohol use on both mental and physical health may facilitate motivation to change their behavior; however, an additional component of psychoeducation (e.g., alternative coping strategies) may be necessary to modify coping-motivated use and enhance one's confidence to refrain from alcohol in the context of negative affect.