Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology


In the last decade there has been a proliferation of research on adult children of alcoholics (ACAs). However, the religious domain of ACAs has received little investigation. Wilson (1988) studied Evangelical Christian ACAs and included a brief assessment of their religious well-being. She found that ACAs report lower religious well-being than nonACAs. The purpose of this investigation was to examine further Wilson's finding and to ask whether Evangelical ACAs can be differentiated from non-ACAs based on spiritual well-being as measured by the Spiritual WellBeing Scale (SWB) . The study included 136 adults who were gathered from three Portland, Oregon area Evangelical Christian churches. The adults were divided into two groups based on scores on the Children of Alcoholics Screening Test (CAST). There were 39 ACAs (14 male, 25 female) and 97 non-ACAs (51 male and 46 female) . The mean age of the ACAs was 41 and 43 for the non-ACAs. Using a score of 6 or greater on the CAST to define ACAs, student's t-tests showed no significant differences between ACAs and non-ACAs on the Existential Well-Being (EWB) and Religious Well-Being (RWB) subscales as well as the total SWB scale. Post hoc analysis was done by reclassification of the CAST total scores to "NO ACA", "LOW ACA" (1-19), and "HIGH ACA" (20 or higher) . An analysis of variance (ANOVA) using RWB, EWB, as SWB as the dependent variable resulted in statistically significant differences for EWB. The "High ACA" group was significantly lower on EWB than the "NO ACA" group which suggests that ACAs who come from more severe alcoholic homes tend to have difficulty with interpersonal relationships. The present study failed to replicate Wilson's (1988) findings that ACAs have lower religious wellbeing. An effort was made to explain this discrepancy by using post hoc statistics. Results suggest that Evangelical ACAs are a heterogeneous group and that caution should be taken in generalizing sample results. Those with more severe parental alcoholism seem more likely to report lower existential well-being. Further it is possible that the high frequency of counseling and support group involvement which characterized this sample accounts for the absence of impaired religious and existential well-being for the sample as a whole.

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