Predicting treatment seekers' readiness to change their drinking behavior in the COMBINE Study

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 May;33(5):879-92. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.00905.x. Epub 2009 Mar 11.


Background: Initial motivation and readiness to change (RTC) are complex constructs and have been important but inconsistent predictors of treatment attendance and drinking outcomes in studies of alcoholism treatment. Motivation can be described in multiple ways as simply the accumulation of consequences that push change, a shift in intentions, or engagement in various tasks that are part of a larger process of change.

Method: Using baseline data from participants in the COMBINE Study, this study reevaluated the psychometric properties of a 24-item measure of motivation derived from the University of Rhode Island Change Assessment Scale that yielded 4 subscales representing attitudes and experiences related to tasks of stages of Precontemplation, Contemplation, Action, and Maintenance Striving as well as a second-order factor score representing a multidimensional view of RTC drinking. A variety of hypothesized predictors of readiness and the stage subscales were examined using multiple regression analyses to better understand the nature of this measure of motivation.

Results: Findings supported the basic subscale structure and the overall motivational readiness score derived from this measure. RTC drinking behavior was predicted by baseline measures of perceived stress, drinking severity, psychiatric comorbidity, self-efficacy, craving, and positive treatment outcome expectancies. However, absolute values were small, indicating that readiness for change is not explained simply by demographic, drinking severity, treatment, change process, or contextual variables.

Conclusion: This measure demonstrated good psychometric properties and results supported the independence as well as convergent and divergent validity of the measured constructs. Predictors of overall readiness and subscale scores indicate that a variety of personal and contextual factors contribute to treatment seekers' motivation to change in an understandable but complex manner.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology*
  • Alcohol Drinking / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motivation*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Centers / trends*