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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Motivation to Change as a Mediator for the Longitudinal Relationships of Gender and Alcohol Severity With One-Year Drinking Outcome

We examined whether motivation to change mediated the relationships between gender and baseline alcohol severity with drinking outcome at 12-month follow-up in a longitudinal community sample.

Data were from baseline and 12-month interviews from the Rural Alcohol Study, a probability sample of rural and urban at-risk drinkers (N = 733) from six southern states. At-risk drinkers were identified through a telephone-screening interview. Measures of motivation (problem recognition and taking action) were the resultant two factors derived from the Stages of Change Readiness and Treatment Eagerness Scale. Items on social consequences of drinking measured alcohol severity. Structural equation models examined relationships between baseline alcohol severity and motivation with drinks per drinking day at 12 months.

We identified significant, direct paths between drinking at 12 months and alcohol severity and taking action with an unstandardized estimate of 0.116 (p < .05), alcohol severity and problem recognition (0.423, p < .01), and each of the two "motivation" latent constructs—problem recognition (1.846, p < .01) and taking action (-0.660, p < .01). Finally, the combined direct and negative effect of gender on alcohol consumption at 12-month follow-up was statistically significant, with an unstandardized estimate of -0.970 (p < .01).

The current study offers evidence for motivation to change as a viable mechanism through which alcohol severity is associated with subsequent drinking outcomes. More research is needed to further explore the persistence of motivation to change on drinking outcomes over time.

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