An evaluation of coping ability as a guide to the treatment of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia and substance abuse

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Welfare

First Advisor's Name

Martin Sundel

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Virginia Buki

Third Advisor's Name

Miriam Potocky

Fourth Advisor's Name

Karen M. Sowers-Hoag

Date of Defense



This dissertation introduced substance abuse to the Dynamic Vulnerability Formulation (DVF) and the social competence model to determine if the relationship between schizophrenic symptomatology and coping ability in the DVF applied also to the dually diagnosed schizophrenic or if these variables needed to be modified. It compared the coping abilities of dually and singly diagnosed clients in day treatment and identified, examined, and assessed the relative influence of relevant mediating variables on two dimensions of coping ability of the dually diagnosed: coping skills and coping effort. These variables were: presence of negative and nonnegative symptoms, duration of mental Illness, type of substance used, and age of first substance use.

A priori effect sizes based on previous empirical research were used to interpret the results related to the comparison of demographic, socioeconomic, and treatment characteristics between the singly and dually diagnosed study samples. The data suggested that the singly diagnosed group had higher coping skills than the dually diagnosed group, particularly in the areas of housing stability, work affect, and total social adjustment. The dually diagnosed group had lower scores on one aspect of coping effort — agency or self-efficacy. The data supported the presence of an inverse relationship between symptom severity and coping skills, particularly for the dually diagnosed group. The data did not support the presence of an inverse relationship between symptom severity and coping effort, but did suggest a positive relationship between symptom severity and one measure of coping effort, agency, for the dually diagnosed group. Regression equations using each summary measure of coping skill — social adjustment and role functioning — yielded statistically significant F-ratios. Thirty-six percent of the variance in social adjustment and thirty-one percent of the variance in role functioning were explained by the relative influence of the relevant variables. Both negative and non-negative symptoms were the only significant predictors of social adjustment. The non-negative symptoms variable was the sole significant predictor of role functioning. The results of this study provided partial support for the use of the Dynamic Vulnerability Formulation (DVF) with the dually diagnosed.



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