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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Research Methods.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2036A/B
Sarah Khan

Chapter 2 Research Methods OHRP = Office for Human Research Protections Adverse event – the death of a study participant or any injury or illness to a participant as a result of his or her involved in an approved research study Section I. Measuring Health Borrowing from Epidemiology - Epidemiology – the study of factors or determinants of health status among population groups and the use of that knowledge to help control the spread of health problems in the population o Derived from the Greek words epi (among), demos (people), and logos (study) - Epidemiologists – people who study the determinants and distribution of diseases o Attempt to determine the origins of a disease by identifying and examining the first or earliest known human infected as well as the agent that cause the infection o Second step is determining the risk posed by the disease to current and future populations Mortality vs. Morbidity - Two measures the describe the health of a population - Mortality = death - Morbidity = diseases that may contribute to mortality - Researchers used raw data and rates when reporting morbidity and mortality o Raw data = total number of people with condition X o Rate = total number of people with condition X / total population - Rates are useful for comparison purposes Incidence, Prevalence, and Relative Risks - Incidence – the number of new cases of a disease in a specific population for a given time period o Help to examine how quickly a disease is spreading through a population by examining the incidence of a disease - Prevalence – the total number of cases (old and new) of a specific disease in a population for a given time period - Relative risk – the risk to individuals of acquiring a specific disease o Helps to estimate the risk of acquiring a disease by persons who are members of the exposed group o Compares the risk of members of the exposed group with the risk of acquiring the same disease by persons who are not members Proximal vs. Distal Causes of Illness - Both help to explain individual or community health problems – may include individual, situational, or environmental factors - Proximal – precipitating cause - Distal – predisposing cause o Researchers may need to examine factors or events that predate the illness by moths or perhaps years Section II. Methodology Methodology = research design segment of a study Generally 2 types of research methods in psychology: nonexperimental and experimental Qualitative Studies - Quantitative data: i.e. morbidity, mortality, incidence, prevalence, relative risk - Qualitative data: used when the goal of the researcher is to farther largely nonstatistical data that help to explain a behaviour or outcome in the environment in which it occurs o Provide contextual data that allows for an in-depth exploration and analysis of the health issue o Researchers use the context in which the health even occurred to explore a phenomenon and to identify factors that contribute to an outcome Case Studies - Allow for in-depth analysis of rare or unique events - Compare case studies of patients with similar symptoms to identify commonalities and to link the common symptoms to a likely cause Focus Groups - Serve 4 main functions: o To gather information o To generate insight o To explore a decision-making process o To encourage interactions that create new insights - Participants in a focus group usually have one or more characteristics in common – characteristics that are central to the research question or topic - Yield in-depth information but from a group of people simultaneously rather than from people individually Interviews - One-on-one interview is a data collection technique that can allow for a range of responses according to the type of questions posed - Using closed-ended questions (questions offering a force choice response), researchers can obtain succinct responses to specific questions - Open-ended questions: questions yielding descriptive responses that allow study participants to provide additional information that may offer important details about the person’s health behaviour o Allow respondents to construct and deliver their own answers without regard to the length of their response Correlational Studies - Used to examine the relationship between two variables - Use the Pearson correlation coefficient (r) – describes the strength of the relationship between two variables o Expressed numerically as a value ranging from +1.00 to -1.00 - Correlations can be strongly positive (r = +1.00), strongly negative (r = -1.00) or totally unrelated (r = 0.00) - Retrospective analysis: analysis of data from an existing database - Positive correlation – when both variables increase or decrease in value - Negative correlation – as one variable decreases, the other increases - The strength of the relationship is expressed by the correlation coefficient - Weak correlation: r=0.21-0.39 - Moderate correlation: r=0.40-0.59 - Strong correlation: r= >0.60 - Limitation: inability to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationship between the variables Experimental Studies - Used when trying to explore whether a cause-effect relationship exists - Null hypothesis: an objective extension of the question that assumes no relationships between the two variables - Research hypothesis: an objective extension of the question that assumes a relationship between the two variables Independent vs. Dependent Variables - Independent variable: the variable that is manipulated - Dependent variable: the variable that is affected Experimental vs. Control Groups - Experimental group: test group; receive a special treatment or condition - Control group: does not receive a special treatment or condition Random Sampling - Goal of psychology: explain human behaviour - Goal of health psychology: explain the health behaviours of health outcomes of individuals or groups - Even though researchers conduct studies on small samples of people, the real goal is to generalize the results of their study to other groups in an effort to explain human behaviour - Random sample: a group of people all of whom have an equal chance of participating in the study and who will be representative of the population to be studied o A truly random sample minimizes the possibility that the individuals chose for the study reflect the preferences or biases of the experimenter - Random assignment = random assignment of participants into the control or experimental groups o Ensures less incidence of bias Longitudinal vs. Cross-sectional Design - Longitudinal o Longitudinal study design: study of a phenomenon over an extended period of time using the same participants o Helps control variability in the results due to subject factors such as age, ethnicity or gender o Cons:  Time consuming  Participants may be “lost”  costly - Cross-sectional o Cross-sectional study design: used to study a phenomenon across a wide group of participants o Pros:  Require less time b/c only measure each participant or group once  Shorter duration  Less costly o Cons:  Use of multiple subject groups  More variability in results Box 2.1 The Framingham Heart Study: A Longitudinal Design - 1949; Framingham, Massachusetts - 127 men and women; ages 30-60 - Researchers were primarily interested in identifying the personal habits and traits that contributed to the development of coronary heart disease - Researchers obtained baseline health measures on participants at the beginning of the study - Only individuals with no prior history of heart disease were eligible for the study (eligibility criterion) - Each participant was reassessed every 2 years for the duration of the study - During the first 20-year reassessment period, a number of study participants developed heart disease - Researchers were able to demonstrate an association between coronary artery disease and individual/environmental causes - Researchers demonstrated that high blood pressure, excessive body weight, high cholesterol, lack of physical activity, a smoking habit, and diabetes significantly increase the chances of heart disease - Individuals who had two or more of the associated characteristics were at a higher risk of heart disease than those who only reported one such factor Intervention Studies - Can be experimental or quasi-experimental - Used to test the extent to which an intervention (a special program, therapeutic treatment or training) improves health outcomes - Improvements – enhancements in knowledge, attitudes, or behaviours or measurable changes in physical or mental health - Participants are given a pretest or baseline measure to assess their knowledge, performance, or physical or mental status before intervention - The study group is then given an intervention followed by a second assessment that is identical to or much like the first - The experimental group’s performance on the first (pre) and second (post) assessment are compared to determine the effects, if any, of the intervention on the dependent variable specified - Studies that include a pretest followed by an intervention and conclude with a posttest are known as pretest-posttest studies or pretest-posttest Ethical Considerations in Experimental Design - Randomized clinical trials: use one control and at least one experimental group to test the effects of a new medication, therapeutic approach, or an apparatus as a treatment for a medical or mental illness - FDA requires that new drugs undergo several stages of testing, beginning with laboratory test, followed by tests on laboratory animals, moving on to tests on people only in the later stages of development – lengthy process o Some researchers argue for a different testing procedure for evaluating the benefit of new and potentially life-saving drugs o Argument: additional time needed to confirm the drug’s effectiveness delays the potential benefit for people who need the new drug - Researchers must ensure that the new drugs are effective, are safe, and do not cause life-threatening complications – on the other hand, the time needed to complete all testing procedures delayed the distribution of potentially life-saving drugs - Solution: Pre-post-post-test design o Both the experimental and control groups receive the actual treatment, although not at the same time o Both the experimental and control groups get the drug but the timing of the intervention is different - Pro: minimal delay in administering the drug to the control group  researchers can still conduct a drug vs. no-drug comparison to test the drug’s safety and effectiveness Table 2.4 Sample Pre-Post-Post Test Design Participants Pretest 1 st Posttest 2 nd Post-post- Intervention Intervention test Experimental A A A -------- A Group (A) Experimental Group (B) B -------- B B B Quasi-Experimental Intervention Studies - Quasi-experimental design: a modified methodological approach o DO NOT include control groups – therefore researchers cannot establish cause- effect relationships nor generalize their findings to a larger population - It is not possible to control all the variables in an experiment that involves human participants - The inability to control some independent variables means that researchers are not able to demonstrate a direct cause-effect relationship between the independent variable and the dependent variables or outcomes Table 2.2 Sample Research Methods of He
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