Alcohol use disorder and disability insurance in Switzerland: the attitudes and views of lawyers, insurance medical experts, and addiction-specialist therapists.

Wyler, Helen; Maisch, Anja; Berger, Thomas; Kieser, Ueli; Schleifer, Roman; Liebrenz, Michael (2022). Alcohol use disorder and disability insurance in Switzerland: the attitudes and views of lawyers, insurance medical experts, and addiction-specialist therapists. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 17(1), p. 69. BioMed Central 10.1186/s13011-022-00495-x

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According to a landmark decision by the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, people with a substance use disorder (SUD) are now eligible for disability benefits if their disorder impairs their ability to work. Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most common SUDs in Switzerland and is associated with high societal and economic costs. This study aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of the views of professional stakeholder groups regarding AUD and their opinions on the new legal precedent.


Swiss social insurance lawyers, insurance medical experts, and addiction-specialist therapists (N = 79) answered an online questionnaire. Due to violations of the assumption of normality, non-parametric tests are reported in most cases.


Therapists held significantly higher regard for patients with AUD than both lawyers and insurance medical experts. All three groups strongly supported a disease view of AUD but agreed significantly less that it was a disease like cancer, suggesting that AUDs might be seen as at least partially self-inflicted. Overall, moralist views of AUD received considerably less support than the disease view, with lawyers agreeing with moralist views more than therapists. All groups were well-informed and largely supportive about the new legal precedent. When asked about stipulating participation in medical treatment to mitigate damages associated with a claim, attending therapy was supported the most amongst the groups (80% of participants felt this was somewhat or fully appropriate), followed by a reduction in drinking quantity (58%), and abstinence (18%). In all three groups, we identified associations between certain views and opinions on AUD and support for the new legal precedent.


Whilst there were differences between the stakeholder groups in their regard for and views of AUD, all three adopted a clear harm-reduction approach with respect to measures to mitigate damages associated with the insurance disability claim. A possible connection of this stance with the Swiss national drug policy in recent years is discussed together with limitations of the study and practical implications of the findings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Psychiatric Services
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Psychology > Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy

UniBE Contributor:

Wyler, Helen, Berger, Thomas (B), Schleifer, Roman, Liebrenz, Michael


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




BioMed Central




Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

31 Oct 2022 11:45

Last Modified:

29 Mar 2023 23:38

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Addiction-specialist therapists Alcohol use disorder Disability insurance Disease model of addiction Insurance medical experts Lawyers Moralist/choice view Switzerland




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