Are there gender differences in locus of control specific to alcohol dependence?

Andrew McPherson, Colin Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
358 Downloads (Pure)


Aims and objectives: To investigate gender differences in locus of control in an alcohol-dependent population. Background: Locus of control helps to explain behaviour in terms of internal (the individual is responsible) or external (outside forces, such as significant other people or chance, are responsible) elements. Past research on gender differences in locus of control in relation to alcohol dependence has shown mixed results. There is a need then to examine gender and locus of control in relation to alcohol dependence to ascertain the veracity of any locus of control differences as a function of gender. Design and methods: The Multidimensional Health Locus of Control form-C was administered to clients from alcohol dependence treatment centres in the West of Scotland. Independent t-tests were carried out to assess gender differences in alcohol dependence severity and internal/external aspects of locus of control. Results: One hundred and eighty-eight (53% females) participants were recruited from a variety of alcohol dependence treatment centres. The majority of participants (72%) came from Alcoholics Anonymous groups. Women revealed a greater internal locus of control compared with men. Women also had a greater ‘significant others’ locus of control score than men. Men were more reliant on ‘chance’ and ‘doctors’ than women. All these trends were not, however, statistically significant. Conclusions: Gender differences in relation to locus of control and alcohol dependence from past studies are ambiguous. This study also found no clear statistically significant differences in locus of control orientation as a function of gender. Relevance to clinical practice: This article helps nurses to contextualise health behaviours as a result of internal or external forces. It also helps nursing staff to better understand alcohol dependence treatment in relation to self-efficacy and control. Moreover, it highlights an important concept in health education theory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258–265
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Nursing
Issue number1-2
Early online date24 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • gender; psychometrics; substance abuse; women


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