The article “Six-Year Follow-up of Preventive Interventions for Children of Divorce. A Randomized Controlled Trial,” written by a number of researchers deals with the behavior of adolescents whose parents have been divorced. The study presented in the article is based on the results obtained by interviewing and observing the behavior of 518 families. “Of these, 180 had been recruited from the divorce decree records, 32 had responded to media announcements, 5 had been referred by friends, and 1 had been referred by a mental health professional” (Wolchik, Sandler, Millsap, Plummer, Greene, Anderson, 2002). The study conducted by the researchers has a number of strengths though certain weaknesses of the research should also be taken into consideration. It is necessary to analyze strong and weak points of the article in more detail in order to find out how valuable the study is for people expanding their knowledge in social studies.
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One of the strengths of the study described in the article is the conducting of the procedure. Special software was “developed by an individual; not affiliated with the research projects” (Wolchik et al, 2002). This procedure is of great significance for the study because it minimizes possible bias and allows considering the obtained results objective.
Another strength of the study is ensuring the validity of the obtained data. In the course of the study, the participants visited weekly meetings which made the assessment procedures easier and during which the participants received “training in administration of measures” (Wolchik et al, 2002). The interviews were also recorded on audiotape, which allowed conducting live observation, and if necessary, getting back to the interview later for verifying the information. Moreover, self-administered questionnaires were used when conducting the research on alcohol and drug use among adolescents. This approach to collecting data maximized the validity of responses since the adolescents were able to give more honest answers to the questions.
The main weaknesses of the study consist in the choice of participants. Most adolescents with already existing mental health problems participated in the research. The objective of the study was to prevent mental health problems of adolescents experiencing divorce in their families. The results of the study revealed that engagement of these adolescents into the research led “to reductions not only in externalizing problems but also diagnosis of mental disorder, drug and alcohol use, and number of sexual partners” (Wolchik et al, 2002), whereas most of the participants have already had these mental disorders before the beginning of the research. It would have been better to divide the participants with and without mental disorders into two groups and observe long-term effects in both the groups separately.
One more weakness of the research lies in the organization of the interviews with the participants. During the procedure, interviewers were unaware of the program the participants were engaged in. Though the participants were asked not to discuss their program condition with interviewers, some information could have still been delivered to the latter, which could result in the findings of the study being biased. It would have been more reliable to assign interviewers for particular groups of participants.
Thus, the main strengths of the article are the procedures conducted for collecting data and the measures used to ensure the validity of the data whereas the main weak points are in the choice of participants and the organization of the interviews. However, in general, the information presented in the article is objective and reliable. The researchers utilized a number of terms specific for this area of study and contributed greatly to the development of the topic. This is why the article is valuable for those who build their knowledge in social studies.
Wolchik, S. A., Sandler, I. N., Millsap, R. E., Plummer, B. A., Greene, S. M., Anderson, E. R., et al. (2002). Six-year follow-up of preventive interventions for children of divorce. A randomized controlled trial. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 288, 1874-1881.
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