The abuse of alcohol is the most serious and pervasive substance abuse program in the country, outranking heroin addiction in the number of people affected, in cost, and in psychological-social-familial upheaval. Health problems generated by the excessive consumption of alcohol require that the nurse play a significant role in the care and treatment of alcoholics and their significant others, such role de riving its importance from the direct professional relationship which develops between the nurse and the client. In order to provide meaningful and effective nursing care to alcoholics, the nurse must have a thorough understanding of the disease known as alcohol ism, and must provide a climate of non-judgmental understanding of the alcoholic as a person. However, the problem is that alcoholism often tends to produce negative feelings in people, such as disgust, hostility, and frustration, which have been shown can be changed with increased education and experience.

To investigate the effect of education and experience upon attitudes, a non-experimental, descriptive-comparative study was under taken using the Marcus Alcoholism Questionnaire with three groups of nursing personnel: Registered Nurses (N=43), Licensed Vocational Nurses (N=9), and Psychiatric Technicians (N=29) who were working at the time of the survey in three types of Southern California facilities: a general medical facility, an extended care facility, and a state psychiatric hospital. The questionnaire was returned voluntarily and included demographic data as well as the respondents' attitudes toward and involvement with alcoholics.

Computerizing the data, mean factor scores were determined for nine factors considered significant and indicative of positive/negative attitudes on the questionnaire. The preset alpha = 0.05 was considered an acceptable level of significance. Respondents' answers to the items on the questionnaire were scored and compiled into factors which were then compared with norms provided by the research tool. Statistical tests were performed under the general linear hypothesis.

Data were analyzed to find answers to the five research questions originally formulated pertaining to: predominant attitudes by the nursing personnel groups toward the alcoholic; differences in attitudes where personal encounter with alcoholics exist; the effects of professional educational level, and length of professional experience, on attitudes; and whether validity exists between results obtained in the research and each attitude factor in the questionnaire.

The hypotheses to be investigated stated there will be no significant difference (α=0.05) in the attitudes of Psychiatric Technicians, Licensed Vocational Nurses, or Registered Nurses In comparison to each other, related to (l) professional educational level and (2) experience, dealing with attitudes of nursing personnel toward the alcoholic as measured by the Marcus Alcoholism Questionnaire.

Findings revealed that all nursing personnel groups showed positive attitudes toward the alcoholic on all nine factor categories. Thus hypothesis one was retained from the beginning and statistical testing was not done. There was no significant difference between the reported levels of experience in the three groups and the second hypothesis was also retained.

Based on Chi Square analysis, no relationship was found between reported difficulty working with alcoholics and respondents' relation ship with either friends or relatives who use or abuse alcohol or personal alcohol consumption. Based on a mean factor score analysis, research results correspond to the validity of the nine questionnaire attitude factors.

All of the limitations which apply to descriptive research apply to this study, and generalizations should not be made beyond the target population sampled.

In future studies, it was recommended that replication of this research be undertaken to include a wider representative sampling of educational degree, age, gender, and professional staff within groups. Additional recommendations relate to continuing education and in-service training as potentials for attitudinal change; utilization of a screening test prior to employment for prospective staff for an alcoholism treatment program; refining the demographic data sheet to maximize respondents' true and honest responses; and devising a profile sheet for use with the Marcus Alcoholism Questionnaire.

LLU Discipline





Graduate School

First Advisor

Nancy S. Testerman

Second Advisor

Evelyn L. Elwell

Third Advisor

Bernadine L. Irwin

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)


Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Nurse-Patient Relations; Alcoholism; Attitude of Health Personnel



Page Count

ix; 111

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives