Older adult alcohol misuse: Attitudes, knowledge, and support for prevention policies and practices among aging services practitioners

Crystelle A Egan, University of Rhode Island


Alcohol misuse is prevalent among older adults and is projected to increase. Alcohol misuse includes: 1) at risk consumption patterns and 2) problem use already resulting in negative consequences. An increase in alcohol misuse prevention efforts targeted to adults 65 and older is necessary to address this public health issue. Aging services practitioners are key gatekeepers to the older population, yet anecdotal discussion in the research literature suggests that negative attitudes about older adult alcohol misuse (denial, fatalism, and therapeutic nihilism) may decrease their likelihood of supporting prevention efforts. ^ A national sample of 136 Resident Service Coordinators completed an online survey consisting of demographic questions, an attitudes about older adults scale (refined Aging Semantic Differential), and three newly-developed scales: Knowledge About Older Adult Alcohol Use/Misuse, Attitudes Toward Older Adult Alcohol Use/Misuse, and Support for Policies and Practices to Prevent Older Adult Alcohol Misuse. New scales were developed due to a lack of validated measures in these research areas. ^ Overall, the RSCs demonstrated positive attitudes toward older adults and good knowledge about older adult alcohol misuse. Attitudes toward older adult alcohol misuse were positively disposed toward acknowledgement of the issue, potential for intervention, and optimism about treatment. They endorsed moderate to strong support for prevention efforts that could be implemented at their housing sites. ^ Cronbach's alpha for the new alcohol attitudes scale was adequate for exploratory analysis (alpha=.68) and good for the new support for prevention scale (alpha=.84). The main hypothesis that support for older adult alcohol misuse prevention is predicted by general attitudes about older adults and knowledge and attitudes regarding older adult alcohol misuse over and above selected demographic variables was not supported by hierarchical multiple regression analysis. R of .217 for the final model was not significant (F=.324, p=.636), and R2 change was not significant (p>.05) at any of the five steps of the model. Support for prevention efforts, while high, was not predicted by the variables. ^ The results indicate that RSCs in this sample had higher levels of knowledge, attitudes, and support than initially hypothesized. RSCs may be receptive to prevention efforts at their sites. ^

Subject Area

Health Sciences, Mental Health|Health Sciences, Aging|Health Sciences, Public Health

Recommended Citation

Crystelle A Egan, "Older adult alcohol misuse: Attitudes, knowledge, and support for prevention policies and practices among aging services practitioners" (2010). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI3430337.