Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Date of Award


Degree Level


Proquest Document ID





St. Mary's University (San Antonio, Tex.)

Size or duration

112 pages

Document Type


First Advisor

Ratliff, Dan


Mental health practitioners rely on digital systems to interact with and in some instances treat patients (Hydari, Telang, & Marella, 2015; Recupero, & Rainey, 2005). Yet, while widespread use of digital devices provides significant practical advantages, that same use exacerbates the possibility of a cyber breach (Guterman, 1999). This research describes mental health practitioners’ current cyber security practices and the factors influencing their behavioral intentions to implement cyber security within clinical mental health settings. Factors assessed included knowledge, self-efficacy, norms, threat awareness and penalties. Mental health practitioners (n = 210) from across the United States formed the sample population, received a Qualtrics on-line survey link through their affiliated professional organizations, and responded with the completed survey. Data was analyzed using structural equation modeling and SmartPLS. Results indicated although practitioners profess knowledge of legal and ethical requirements, actual behaviors do not reflect those assertions. Practitioners claimed knowledge of federal law (76.7%); knowledge of state law (70.5%); and knowledge of ethical guidelines (90.5%), yet only 32.4% of practitioners have conducted a risk assessment within the last year and more than 50% do not know how to conduct an assessment. Additionally, more than 20% of our colleagues believe professional liability insurance alone will prevent financial losses from a breach. Finally, 66% of our colleagues believe the cyber security threat is exaggerated. These findings suggest practitioner understanding of the requirements for addressing privacy and confidentiality risks in the use of digital systems fall short of desired standards

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Psychology Commons