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This advertisement is for Zyrtec, a prescription allergy medication. This advertisement was found in the May 2002 issue of O Magazine. Manifest content: Zyrtec’s written content focuses primarily on the fact that Zyrtec is an allergy medication for all your needs. Three related quotes are found: “both your indoor and outdoor allergies”; “FDA-approved to treat yar-round indoor allergies…, and outdoor allergies”; “Lots of allergies. Just one Zyrtec”. Almost ¾ of the front page ad space is devoted to the image of the advertisement. The image is a male and female standing in a lake. The male is Caucasian and the female is Caucasian or possibly Asian. The wedding band indicates they are married. They appear to be in their mid- to late-thirties. The required patient information is printed in a very small font on the back of Latent content: The male and female in the picture convey many subtle messages. They both appear happy, likely because they are enjoying their time at the lake. No other people are shown in the background so it is assumed it is a quiet and relaxing place. They are pleasantly average which is unusual for advertisements in a magazine aimed at women. Since they are at the lake, it can be assumed that they are active and healthy; yet, neither is toned nor thin. The advertisement only shows the corner of the house, suggesting that the house is common and plain (and presumably the source of mold and dust), not a “show-stopper” summer home worthy of central focus. The side effects of the medication are mentioned on the front page of the ad as manifest content, but even if the words “mild or moderate” were not used, the latent content implies that the side effects are mild because the couple does not look fatigued or drowsy. The overall latent message appears to be, “Hey all you just average people whose main summer adventure is a trip to the lake, come try Zyrtec. It will help your allergies and make your everyday marriage happy”. Situation: I will assume for now that my future-place-of-employment is in an academic setting and I am an academic researcher involved in planning, conducting and evaluating community nutrition intervention research. Many nutrition intervention programs are aimed at minority populations because they have higher rates of chronic disease that are presumably related in part to poor nutritional choices. Frequently, these programs are also aimed at children since child obesity has been linked to a higher incidence of chronic diseases manifesting in childhood. Before developing and conducting a nutrition intervention for a minority population of children, I would conduct focus groups with minority children. For example, I could do focus groups to find out what does and does not appeal to them so I use this information in the design of my program approach and materials. Knowing what types of games, television shows, and famous people, appealed to children would provide valuable information that only children can provide. A focus group mimics a natural setting for the children, talking with same-age peers. It is more likely they will be comfortable in an environment with 1 adult moderator and 5-6 other children than being 1:1 with an adult in an interview. Individual interviews might provide some information but would lack the benefit of seeing how the children interacted with each other, defended their responses, or added to the response of another child to build a more complete picture of what does and does not appeal to them. In an individual interview, I would not see how feedback from their peers helps shape their choices. In a focus group, I could say, “Pretend you are a group of producer for a children’s video, who would you star in your video that kids would listen to?”. They will “bounce” around ideas and build on each other’s responses. In a focus group, I could ask them not just if they liked something, but why did they like it, what makes that particular thing “cool”. An advantage to a focus group over a phone interview or a questionnaire is that you can read non-verbal responses. For example, suppose I was designing a nutritional video with a song as a central focus, a focus group would allow me to play the music clip and see they wrinkle up their faces or tap their foot to the beat. In a questionnaire, I could only ask what types of music they liked, not actually play music. Also, children have limited literacy skills, so it may be difficult for them to read and interpret written questions. It is my view that mixed methods are possible in some areas of research, including my area of interest, community nutrition intervention program development and evaluation. In this setting, I believe that a mixed methods approach is not only possible, but is desirable. To support my opinion, I will walk through some of the key aspects of program development, implementation, and evaluation to discuss how qualitative and quantitative research methods can be used together. When planning an intervention program, it is essential to know the community or population of interest. You need to determine what the needs and interests are of the community members. This could be achieved using traditional quantitative methods such as a questionnaire or structured interview. However, qualitative methods, such as focus groups and unstructured interviews, may yield more informative answers to your questions. Focus groups allow a more naturalistic setting for participants to share their opinions and ideas. The feedback that participants provide to one another is valuable information that might not be obtained by traditional quantitative methods. Unstructured interviews give the participant more freedom to express their ideas and Focus groups or advisory councils can also be used to guide instrument development. These qualitative methods are particularly useful in helping ensure that the language is understood by and appropriate to the population being surveyed. These groups may also guide question selection by providing insight that is not otherwise known by the researcher. Ethnography may also be used to guide program development. For an upcoming nutrition intervention program with African American children, two African American women have been observing classrooms of 4th grade-children for the past school year. These women will observe the interactions of the children as well as engage in conversations with the children. The field notes of the women provide valuable information about what types of learning activities the kids enjoy most as well as information about their behavior patterns and interests. Program development may also be theory-driven which is considered a characteristic of quantitative research. If a previous researcher has asserted that a theory is useful in determining how individuals change their behaviors, then another researcher may use that theory to develop his/her program. If the researcher forms indicators to represent the concepts of the theory, these indicators can be measured to provide further support (or not) for the theory in question. Validity and reliability are central to the measurement of concepts in quantitative research. As a researcher develops and pilot-tests their instruments, the researcher may test the reliability of the responses by administering the questionnaire across time points; this is known as the test-retest method. The researcher may also use the split- half method to evaluate the internal reliability of the instrument. The researcher might evaluate the criterion validity of the instrument by comparing it to the gold-standard method of the field. Experimental design can be considered a hallmark of quantitative research. Experimental design is used to support causality as well as to control for extraneous variables. In program implementation, principles of experimental design can be used to organize groups. For example, there might an intervention group and a delayed intervention group to serve as a control group. These principles help support the researchers’ assertions that the behavioral change was due to the influence of their program. When possible, randomization of participants can help ensure that the participants are representative of the population. Randomization also helps decrease the risk that group members vary in baseline characteristics. In situations where individual randomization is not desirable or possible, such as in a school setting, randomization may be used to select schools or classrooms. Randomization of schools or classrooms can decrease the risks of contamination among participants. If a pilot study is conducted, qualitative and quantitative methods can both be used to gather data for a process evaluation which is useful in determining what and why the program was successful (or unsuccessful). Quantitative methods, such as written questionnaires or structured telephone interviews, may be conducted with participants to gather their feedback. Qualitative methods, such as a focus group with program leaders, may be used to obtain their input about why the program was successful. Often qualitative methods may reveal insights that were not considered by the researcher as to why the program was successful. Statistical methods are typically used to evaluate program outcomes. Behavior change is often measured in quantifiable terms and statistical methods are employed to determine the statistical significance of the outcomes. Pre-testing and post-testing may be used to measure change in particular outcomes. For example, analysis of variance might be used to determine if the groups means vary significantly on a particular outcome before and after an intervention. If the groups do vary significantly, the researcher uses this evidence to support his/her assertion that the intervention was effective. Statistical methods can also be used to control for confounding variables and help “sift out” the effects of the program. In summary, both quantitative and qualitative methods have merit in the development, implementation, and evaluation of community intervention programs. These methods can be used together to guide these processes involved in community intervention research.

Source: http://kimmg.myweb.uga.edu/portfolio/hprb_exam.pdf

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