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Social Work Research Methods - Test #2

Terms in this set (98)

1. Perceptions of reality:

Quantitative: Ethnic minorities share similar experiences within the public social service system. These experiences can be described objectively; that is, a single reality exist outside any one person.

Qualitative: Individual and ethnic group experiences within the public social service system are unique. There experiences can only be described subjectively: that is, a single and unique reality exists within each person.

2. Ways of "knowing":

Quantitative: The experience of ethnic minorities within public social services is made known by closely examining specific parts of their experiences. Scientific principles, rules, and test of sound reasoning are used to guide the research process.

Qualitative: The experience of ethnic minorities within the public social services is made known by capturing the whole experiences of a few cases. Parts of their experiences are considered only in relation to the whole of them. Sources of knowledge are illustrated through stories, diagrams, and pictures that are shared by the people with their unique life experiences.

3. Value Bases:

Quantitative: The researchers suspend all their values related to ethnic minorities and social services from the steps taken within the research study. The research participant "deposits" data, which are screened, organized, and analyzed by the researchers who do not attribute any personal meaning to the research participants or to the data they provide.

Qualitative: The research is the research process, and any person values, beliefs, and experiences of the research will influence the research process. The researcher learns from the research participants, and their interaction is mutual.

4. Applications:

Quantitative: Research results are generalized to the population from which the sample is draw (e.g., other minority groups, other social services programs). The research findings tell us, on the average the experience that ethnic minorities have within the public social service system.

Qualitative: Research results tell a story of a few individuals' or one group's experience within the public social service system. The research findings provide n in-depth understanding of a few people. The life context of each research participant is key to understanding the stories he or she tells.
• Patients who have progressive or advanced illness often score poorly on measures of normal functioning that have been designed for fully functioning people. We want to measure functioning because the client's ability to perform the normal functions of life is part of the assessment of quality of life. Low functioning persons may have a quite poor quality of life. A very ill person may score very low, or at bottom, on a measure of functioning. If we want to measure any further decline that may be impossible because that client is already at the bottom of the scale. That is known as a FLOOR EFFECT. Sensitivity to very low levels of functioning is lost when floor effects are characteristic of a measurement procedure. Care must be taken to use measures that are designed to include sensitivity to very low values of what is being measured.

• There are also CIELING EFFECTS. Taking quality of life as an example for the second time the relation between a person's quality of life and that person's level of monetary income works well within moderate income ranges. But when current quality of life scales are used, quality of life tends to be at the very top of the scale's value when the income level is about $150,000. Above that level quality of life cannot get any higher as it is currently measured. So we cannot measure the improvement in quality of life as incomes rise above $150,000. People with $200,000 in income therefore seem to have the same quality of life as those with $2 million or $20 million or even $200 million. This is a ceiling effect. Sensitivity to quality of life at very high income levels is lost when ceiling effects are characteristic of a measurement procedure. Care must be taken to use measures that are designed to include sensitivity to very high values of what is being measured.
• The first point is relevance. The results of a measure must tell the clinician something about what he or she is treating the client for. It must provide a fuller or finer description of the client's problem, and/or a more correct and precise diagnosis, and/or some information that can be used to decide on treatment. When given a series of scores over time it must provide some information that can be used to gauge whether progress is occurring.

• Componential accessibility: The clinician needs to be able to consider what to do with the information. For example, a skills test that just gives us a client's overall score does not mean very much. But if that score is broken down to give us (a) a score on verbal skills, and (b) a score on mathematical skills, and (c) a score on reading, and (d) a score on critical thinking, then a clinician can plan for working on those areas that are weaker than others. Over time, a series of such componential scores enable us to see the areas in which the client is improving and those in which there is no improvement, etc.

Similarly, an overall quality of life score of, say, 50 out of 100 offers little information that will help in planning appropriate interventions. The clinician needs to understand what factors are affecting the patient's quality of life— such as symptoms of illnesses, functional impairments, community resources, financial concerns, social support, etc. —so that appropriate treatments and social services can be planned. The measure must provide information that relates to such things. To be clinically useful quality of life measures must provide easy access to the components of the assessment.