Motivation and readiness to change: A comparison of clients in religion-based and prison-based drug treatment programs in Taiwan

Doris Chu

Professor of Department and Graduate Institute of Criminology, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan,

Telephone: 886-5-2720411*36325,168 Sec. 1 University Rd. Min-Hsiung, Chia-Yi County, Taiwan

Simpson and Joe (1993) identified drug problem recognition, desire for help, and treatment readiness as three dimensions that reflect clients’ motivation in the treatment process. The trans-theoretical model conceptualizes behavior change as a progression of five stages of change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance) (Prochaska et al., 1992; Norcross et al., 2011). Using data derived from 196 clients receiving substance abuse treatment in Taiwan (117 from prison-based treatment and 79 from religion-based treatment programs), this study compared clients’ attitudinal differences along three dimensions (drug problem recognition, desire for help, and treatment readiness) as well as their stages of change in both programs.  Clients in the religion-based program scored higher in the scale measuring readiness to change, as well as in problem recognition and desire for help, in comparison with those receiving treatment in the prison-based program. Using the revised scale that measures clients’ stage of change created by Heather and Honekopp (2008), it was found that clients in the religion-based program were further along at the stage of change. None of the clients in the religion-based program (versus 9% of the clients in the prison-based program) were classified at the stage of pre-contemplation. 21% and 79% of the religion-based clients (versus 16% and 75% of the clients in the prison-based program) were classified at the contemplation and action stages, respectively. Religion-based program participants were found to be more motivated to change in comparison with those of the prison-based program. Policy implications are discussed.

Key words

Trans-theoretical model; stage of change; readiness to change; substance abuse treatment; religion-based drug treatment; prison-based drug treatment


Doris Chu is a Professor in the Department and Graduate Institute of Criminology at National Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. Her recent articles have appeared in British Journal of Criminology, Crime and Delinquency, and Policing. She is the guest editor for a special issue, “Crime and Criminal Justice in Taiwan,” of International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice, (2013), 37, (2). She was awarded the 2013 Richard Terrill best paper of the year for her article entitled “The Role of the State on Cross-National Homicide Rates,” which was published in the International Criminal Justice Review, 2013, 23, (3), 252-279.

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