Date of Award

Fall 12-18-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Eric L. Sevigny, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

R. Frances Chen, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

William J. Sabol, Ph.D.


Purpose: The understanding of sociodemographic variables and drug court completion is well documented in the drug court literature, but the application of theoretical predictors is often neglected, leading to a gap in theory and practice. To fill this gap, this study examined the utility of social support theory in explaining the differences between those who complete the drug court program and those who fail to do so. Using Cohen’s definition, social support was conceptualized as social networks, supportive behaviors, and perceived support.

Methods: Participant survey data and drug court data from the National Institute of Justice’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) was used to construct seven scales of social support that proxy the Index of Socially Supportive Behaviors (ISSB) and Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS). Several random-effect, multi-level logistic models were used to calculate the probability of drug court completion, controlling for participant and drug court level effects. There were two hypotheses: (1) Social support is positively associated with drug court completion, and (2) drug court completion varies by the type of social network and the type of supportive behavior.

Results: Consistent with Cohen’s hypothesis and previous empirical research, the combination of informal and formal social support, including supportive behaviors and perceived social support, significantly predicted drug court completion at 18-months. Formal expressive and formal perceived social support were correlated with completion, even when level-2 programmatic controls were added to the models. However, formal instrumental social support did not predict completion. Likewise, expressive, instrumental, and perceived informal social support from family remained insignificant throughout all models. Suggestions for implementing changes in the drug court model based on these results are discussed.

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