Construct validity and predictive utility of the stages of change scale for alcoholics. Academic Article uri icon


  • Recent theory and research suggest that the process of changing addictive behaviors may be conceptualized as a stage phenomenon consisting of precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance stages. Accurately assessing motivation or commitment to change seems to be a crucial step in matching patients to appropriate interventions. Using the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment Scale (URICA; McConnaughy, Prochaska, & Velicer, 1983), previous research has identified subtypes of outpatient alcoholics based on their attitude toward each of the stages of change. Profiles derived for each subtype roughly corresponded to one of the specific stages of change. The goals of this study were to determine if similar groups could be identified for patients receiving substance abuse treatment in a residential setting and to examine whether these groups would differ on other theoretically relevant variables. Stage of change scale scores for 141 patients entering an alcohol treatment program at a VA domiciliary were submitted to a hierarchical cluster analysis. A two-cluster solution appeared to fit the data best, with group means suggesting the existence of precontemplation and contemplation/action stage groups in this population. The two clusters did not differ on demographic variables, biochemical markers of alcohol consumption, or self-reported awareness of alcohol-related problems. However, participants in the precontemplation cluster reported being less worried about their use, less receptive to help, and having sought out help fewer times in the past. Participants in the contemplation/action cluster also reported greater symptoms of depression and anxiety. Preliminary treatment outcome data for each group are presented, as well as suggestions for treatment matching. Results suggest that the URICA can be used to identify clinically meaningful subtypes of treatment-seeking alcoholics.

published proceedings

  • J Subst Abuse

author list (cited authors)

  • Willoughby, F. W., & Edens, J. F.

citation count

  • 82

complete list of authors

  • Willoughby, FW||Edens, JF

publication date

  • January 1996