FSU Substance Use & Abuse the Impact of Social Desirability Bias & Stigma Essay


An issue with self-reported data, as you would collect during an assessment or screening for substance use disorders is bias. Social desirability bias is a primary concern when screening for substance use disorders, and can compromise the validity of a measure.

Social desirability bias is defined by Althubaiti (2016, p. 212) as follows:

When researchers use a survey, questionnaire, or interview to collect data, in practice, the questions asked may concern private or sensitive topics, such as self-report of dietary intake, drug use, income, and violence. Thus, self-reporting data can be affected by an external bias caused by social desirability or approval, especially in cases where anonymity and confidentiality cannot be guaranteed at the time of data collection. For instance, when determining drug usage among a sample of individuals, the results could underestimate the exact usage. The bias in this case can be referred to as social desirability bias.

Part 1:

Describe the stigma people with substance use disorders face. Discuss how this may impact:

1. Motivation to seek treatment

2. Access to treatment

3. Treatment outcomes

4. Recovery

Use the course materials in Module 1 about stigma to inform your answers.

Part 2:

Discuss how social desirability and stigma can impact the following:

1. Screening (ascertaining there may be a substance use disorder)

2. Assessment (ascertaining the severity of the substance use disorder)

3. Diagnosis (assigning the label of SUD to an individual)

Part 3:

Discuss what you could do to mitigate the impact of social desirability bias and stigma/shame surrounding addiction in your practice as a social worker.