The present study examines the relationship between codependency and caregiving to determine whether codependent persons tend to be attracted to caregiving professions. The study also examined the relationship between codependency, self-esteem, and locus of control, as measured by the Friel Co-Dependency Assessment Inventory (Friel, 1985; Friel & Friel, 1987), the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale (Fitts, 1965), and the internal-External Locus of Control Scale (Rotter, 1966), respectively. Voluntary participants consisted of 15 occupational therapy students and 15 health information administration (HIA) students believed to be different from one another with respect to the caregiving aspects of their respective professions. The occupational therapy group scored significantly lower than the HIA group on the measure of codependency (m = 21.2 vs. m = 28.8, respectively) [ t(28) = 2.258, p = 05]. No other significant differences were noted between groups for the other test scores. Only codependency scores between 31 and 60, that is, moderate-to-severe and severe concerns (n = 6), had a strong correlation with self-esteem scores (r= − .974) and a moderate correlation with locus of control scores (r = .683). No student in the occupational therapy group scored within the moderate-to-severe or severe range. The results did not support a relationship between codependency and choice of a caregiving-oriented profession. Further, only moderate-to-severe and severe codependency scores were indicative of low self-esteem and high external locus of control.
Implications of this study suggest incorporation into the academic preparation of occupational therapy students information regarding codependency and self-assessment of codependency to facilitate awareness of the student’s need to nurture others. Replication of this study with registered occupational therapists and certified occupational therapy assistants to determine the extent to which these findings are applicable is suggested.