Date of Award

Summer 2004

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Saunders, Stephen M.


Literature suggests that lawyers report experiencing psychological distress in excess of the general population. Epidemiological research has identified an under utilization of mental health services by those in need of mental health treatment. This study investigated the attitudes and beliefs lawyers have about seeking professional mental health services to ascertain the determinants related to their intention to seek treatment. The purpose of this study was to identify factors that influence lawyers' intention to seek psychological services. The Attitudes and Belief about Seeking Professional Mental Health Treatment Questionnaire was sent to l,429 lawyers in Wisconsin. Four hundred eleven surveys were returned with 405 analyzed in this study. The determinants of intention to seek mental health treatment were isolated using the Theory of Reasoned Action and Theory of Planned Behavior. Multiple regression analyses indicated that attitude toward the behavior, subjective norm, and perceived behavioral control predicted lawyers' intention to seek treatment. Attitude toward seeking mental health services was found to contribute more to the prediction of intention than subjective norm or perceived behavioral control. Lawyers who reported an intention to seek psychological treatment were contrasted with lawyers who reported an intention not to seek treatment. Lawyers who intended to seek treatment were more likely to have a favorable attitude toward seeking psychological treatment, believe they would want to comply with important referents that would want them to seek treatment, and have confidence they could seek treatment. Lawyers who intended to seek treatment were more likely to accept negative consequences that may result from seeking services. Lawyers who intended to seek treatment also found it easier to admit they had a problem, decide that treatment may help, decide to seek treatment, and make an appointment, than those who did not intend to seek treatment. Lawyers with prior treatment experience were found to be more likely to intend to seek treatment than those who did not have prior treatment experience. This study isolated factors that influence lawyers' intention to seek treatment that can be used to design interventions that increase the number of lawyers who seek professional mental health services.



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