Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Mitchell Hicks

Abstract

In order to perform their duties, airline pilots must have no clinical diagnosis of mental illness or any substance use disorder. However, provisions have been in place since the 1970s that provide for a return to work for airline pilots with alcohol problems. To date, over 5,000 airline pilots have undergone rehabilitation for Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) and successfully returned to work. An important gap in the literature remains with regard to what extent improvements in cognitive performance may be experienced by airline pilots who complete treatment and to what extent age influences the amount of change. This study examined the archival data of 95 male Caucasian pilots who were assessed for cognitive performance shortly after entry to 30-day inpatient treatment and approximately 5 months later during the return to work evaluation. A nonexperimental within subjects design compared pre- and post-treatment scores on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV) full scale and 4 index scores as well as differences for age groups (25 to 44, 45 to 54, and 55 to 64). Repeated measures ANOVA revealed that there were significant gains on all WAIS-IV measures preâ??post treatment for AUD. MANOVA results indicated no differences between age groups. These findings support current Federal Aviation Administration program practices with regard to returning airline pilots to work following rehabilitation and a sufficient period of abstinence. The potential of this study to promote the agenda of social change may be substantive for raising awareness of the cognitive deficits associated with AUD and how these may impact the safety of flight operations.

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