Date of Award


Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Porter, James,


Psychology, Clinical.




A number of studies have linked the development of substance abuse problems to a lack of purpose or meaning in life, and a few studies have demonstrated an increase in sense of life purpose through substance abuse treatment programs. The present study extended past research by examining the relationship of purpose in life to treatment outcome assessed three months post-treatment, and by examining the relationship between depression and sense of purpose in life. One hundred and forty-six people in inpatient treatment programs or awaiting treatment for alcoholism (in some cases in addition to other drug addictions) comprised the subject sample. There were four groups of subjects--three treatment groups and one waiting list nonequivalent control group. Patients in the three treatment groups completed the Purpose in Life Test, Beck Depression Inventory, Alcohol Dependence Scale, and Personality Research Form Desirability Scale at the commencement of their treatment programs. The waiting list group completed the same tests. The Purpose in Life Test and the Beck Depression Inventory were administered to the treatment groups again at the end of inpatient treatment, and to the waiting list group three weeks after the initial testing session. Three months later, the treatment groups were sent a questionnaire assessing drinking and drug use, ratings of five life areas, and participation in aftercare. These follow-up data were corroborated by a person close to the patient and/or treatment personnel whenever possible. Results of the present study suggest that depression and sense of purpose in life are different, albeit overlapping, constructs. The correlation coefficient between pre-treatment Beck Depression Inventory and Purpose in Life Test scores was $-$.70. Post-treatment Beck Depression Inventory and Purpose in Life Test scores were differentially predictive of follow-up variables. The mean pre-treatment Purpose in Life Test score of the subjects was significantly lower than average. The mean post-treatment score of treatment completers was in the average range. The waiting list group mean score remained low. The post-treatment Purpose in Life Test score was predictive of changes in intimate relationships and health at follow-up. It was also predictive of follow-up drinking/drug use status. However, the pattern of prediction varied according to the orientation of the treatment program. Possible interpretations of the differing patterns are presented.Dept. of Psychology. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1990 .W358. Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 52-11, Section: B, page: 6101. Director: James Porter. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1990.