The study aimed to examine representations of alcohol problems in patients and their significant others and investigate the impact of divergent beliefs on relationship quality, significant other distress and treatment attendance. Representations of alcohol problems in patients (n = 49) admitted to an alcohol treatment clinic and their significant others (n = 49) were examined using revised versions of the Illness Perception Questionnaire (IPQ). Dissimilarity scores were calculated. Relationship quality was measured using expressed and perceived negative feelings scales and significant other distress was measured using a shortened version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-12). Significant other representations of alcohol problems were found to be associated with patient-significant other relationship quality. Dissimilar beliefs in patients and significant others were important for both (a) entry into aftercare and (b) subsequent number of aftercare groups attended, after age and severity of dependency had been controlled for. These results demonstrate the importance of the role of significant other and divergent beliefs, and highlight the need for more emphasis on the social environment in the treatment of alcohol problems.
- Alcohol treatment
- Illness perception questionnaire