PSYC 4320 Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Clinical Trial, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Child Abandonment

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28 Jul 2016
DISCUSSION 2 - January 19
1. The Times article provides a cautionary tale about the limits of health research especially with
regards to preventative medicine (an area of particular importance to applied social psychology).
The author suggests that when it comes to preventative medicine our research methods and
conclusions are more often than not, fundamentally flawed. Do you agree?
Yes: Author explains in beginning that the “natural rhythm of science” entails confidence in a drug one
year to a reversal in the next year. Also, that “there are an infinite number of wrong hypotheses for every
right one.” Since this seems to be the trend in preventative treatments, I will agree that research methods
ARE flawed
According to article, research conclusions for preventative medicine cannot inherently determine
causation, their evidence is termed ‘circumstantial’. While these results may be good at identifying
predictors of disease, they aren’t too great at explaining how or why one thing “causes” another
The perception of what this research can accomplish by the public and media may have run far ahead of
2. Should the standard be much higher when recommending behaviour changes for healthy people?
Can we ever rely on prospective studies (correlational evidence) to recommend behaviour changes
(e.g., diet, lifestyle, prescriptions, herbal/vitamin supplements etc.) for healthy people? What about
clinical trials, do they provide reliable evidence that we can use to guide behaviour changes for
healthy people?
• The anti-realists approach that assumes as there are multiple truths there can be no ‘one’ criterion.
• Those that believe quantitative and qualitative methodologies represent diverse ontological assumptions
and therefore require diverse quality criteria.
• Those that believe the exclusion of the likelihood of error is common to all good research and therefore
common to quantitative/ qualitative methodologies with some method-appropriate variation.
I do not think it is ok to rely on prospective studies. They just watch for outcomes and do not take into
account other factors that could be involved.
clinical trials are a bit more reliable because they have more control over measuring variables. However,
no study can eliminate all possible variables, so these studies need to be taken with caution.
3. What are the methodological challenges that Zink and Putnam (2005) identify when it comes to
research on IPV? Are some (all?) of these challenges relevant for other women’s health research?
Are there ways to minimize or overcome some of these challenges? Are randomized controlled
trials (RCTs) ever appropriate/feasible for IPV research? Are they appropriate for any women’s
health issue that is relevant to applied social psychology?
Challenges of research in IPV
- Randomization
- unpredictable, difficult to control
- irresponsible to do nothing
- irresponsible to randomize type of treatment when people have varying needs
- ex post facto
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