Recent lectures on HRQL, Genetic Epidemiology, and Psychometrics

2010-05-13

Here is a brief sketch of what I have read from January on. This is mainly related to health-related quality of life, psychometrics, genetics, and psychiatry. No really to comment out, just a traceback for myself.

Also, I assembled a bunch of key papers in HRQL that I actually share with my colleagues (using the so great Dropbox facilities!). For those who might be interested, here is the ever growing references list in TXT format. I maintained a similar list for genetics, especially association studies and behavioral genetics, but I will now stop its maintainance: too time consuming…

I am also diving into personality research, not so to remember my earlier education in psychology, but to better understand the link between personality traits, genetics, and HRQL. I shall return to this topic later.

Multilevel Analysis of Individuals and Cultures, Fons J.R. van de Vijver, Dianne A. Van Hemert, Ype H. Poortinga, editors (LEA, 2008, 448 pages, ISBN 978-0-8058-5892-1)
In this new book, top specialists address theoretical, methodological, and empirical multilevel models as they relate to the analysis of individual and cultural data. Divided into four parts, the book opens with the basic conceptual and theoretical issues in multilevel research, including the fallacies of such research. Part II describes the methodological aspects of multilevel research, including data-analytic and structural equation modeling techniques. Applications and models from various research areas including control, values, organizational behavior, social beliefs, well-being, personality, response styles, school performance, family, and acculturation, are explored in Part III. This section also deals with validity issues in aggregation models. The book concludes with an overview of the kinds of questions addressed in multilevel models and highlights the theoretical and methodological issues yet to be explored.
This book is intended for researchers and advanced students in psychology, sociology, social work, marriage and family therapy, public health, anthropology, education, economics, political science, and cultural and ethnic studies who study the relationship between behavior and culture.

Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment: Moving Beyond the Nature/Nurture Debate, Lyla M. Hernandez, Dan G. Blazer, editors (National Academies Press, 2006, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0309101967)
Over the past century, we have made great strides in reducing rates of disease and enhancing people’s general health. Public health measures such as sanitation, improved hygiene, and vaccines; reduced hazards in the workplace; new drugs and clinical procedures; and, more recently, a growing understanding of the human genome have each played a role in extending the duration and raising the quality of human life. But research conducted over the past few decades shows us that this progress, much of which was based on investigating one causative factor at a time – often, through a single discipline or by a narrow range of practitioners – can only go so far. “Genes, Behavior, and the Social Environment” examines a number of well-described gene-environment interactions, reviews the state of the science in researching such interactions, and recommends priorities not only for research itself but also for its workforce, resource, and infrastructural needs.

Quality of Life Impairment in Schizophrenia, Mood and Anxiety Disorders, Michael S. Ritsner, A. George Awad, editors (National Academies Press, 2007, 388 pages, ISBN 978-1-4020-5777-9)
This book presents new insights that health-related quality of life (HRQL) impairment is a core domain of prevalent mental disorders such as schizophrenia, schizoaffective, mood and anxiety disorders. The authors present a new conceptual framework for this field by explaining how HRQL impairment arises from interactions between various multidimensional factors. They suggest several ways in which further research could enhance our understanding of HRQL impairment, its biological basis, and its relevance to psychopathology. There is discussion of the current findings, issues and concerns regarding instruments for measuring HRQL, and quality of life impairment in specific mental disorders. Comparative data regarding HRQL deficit in these disorders and the clinical and psychosocial indicators of HRQL in each of the specific disorders are presented, and suggestions for future research are provided. This essay collection, written by leading researchers in this field presents a comprehensive framework for analyzing HRQL impairment in both theoretical and practical aspects.

Quality of Life Outcomes in Clinical Trials and Health-Care Evaluation: A Practical Guide to analysis and interpretation, Stephen J. Walters (Wiley, 2009, 380 pages, ISBN 978-0-470-75382-8)
Quality of Life (QoL) outcomes or Person/Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) are now frequently being used in randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies. This book provides a practical guide to the design, analysis and interpretation of studies that use such outcomes.
QoL outcomes tend to generate data with discrete, bounded and skewed distributions. Many investigators are concerned about the appropriateness of using standard statistical methods to analyse QoL data and want guidance on what methods to use. QoL outcomes are frequently used in cross-sectional surveys and non-randomised health-care evaluations.
Provides a user-friendly guide to the design and analysis of clinical trials and observational studies in relation to QoL outcomes • Discusses the problems caused by QoL outcomes and presents intervention options to help tackle them • Guides the reader step-by-step through the selection of appropriate QoLs • Features exercises and solutions and a supporting website providing downloadable data files
Illustrated throughout with examples and case studies drawn from the author’s experience, this book offers statisticians and clinicians guidance on choosing between the numerous available QoL instruments.

Health Measurement Scales: A Practical Guide to Their Development and Use, David L. Streiner, Geoffrey R. Norman (Oxford Medical Publications, 2003, 296 pages, ISBN 978-0198528470)
Health Measurement Scales covers how the individual items are developed; various biases that can affect responses (eg social desirability, yea-saying, framing); various response options; how to select the best items in the set; how to combine them into a scale; and then how to determine the reliability and validity of the scale. It concludes with a discussion of ethical issues that may be encountered, and guidelines for reporting the results of the scale development process. Appendices include a comprehensive guide to finding existing scales, and a brief introduction to exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. It synthesizes the theory of scale construction with practical advice, making it the ultimate guide to how to develop and validate measurement scales that are to be used in the health sciences.

The New Psychometrics: Science, Psychology and Measurement, Paul kline (Routledge, 2000, 224 pages, ISBN 978-0415228213)
Many psychological factors are little more than statistical descriptions of particular sets of data and have no real significance. Paul Kline uses his long and extensive knowledge of psychological measurement to argue that truly scientific forms of measurement could be developed to create a new psychometrics. This would transform the basis of psychology and change it from a social science to a pure science.

Constructing Measures: An Item Response Modeling Approach, Mark Wilson (Routledge, 2004, 248 pages, ISBN 978-0805847857)
Constructing Measures introduces a way to understand the advantages and disadvantages of measurement instruments, how to use such instruments, and how to apply these methods to develop new instruments or adapt old ones. The book is organized around the steps taken while constructing an instrument. It opens with a summary of the constructive steps involved. Each step is then expanded on in the next four chapters. These chapters develop the “building blocks” that make up an instrument–the construct map, the design plan for the items, the outcome space, and the statistical measurement model. The next three chapters focus on quality control. They rely heavily on the calibrated construct map and review how to check if scores are operating consistently and how to evaluate the reliability and validity evidence. The book introduces a variety of item formats, including multiple-choice, open-ended, and performance items; projects; portfolios; Likert and Guttman items; behavioral observations; and interview protocols.
Each chapter includes an overview of the key concepts, related resources for further investigation and exercises and activities. Some chapters feature appendices that describe parts of the instrument development process in more detail, numerical manipulations used in the text, and/or data results. A variety of examples from the behavioral and social sciences and education including achievement and performance testing; attitude measures; health measures, and general sociological scales, demonstrate the application of the material. An accompanying CD features control files, output, and a data set to allow readers to compute the text’s exercises and create new analyses and case archives based on the book’s examples so the reader can work through the entire development of an instrument.
Constructing Measures is an ideal text or supplement in courses on item, test, or instrument development, measurement, item response theory, or rasch analysis taught in a variety of departments including education and psychology. The book also appeals to those who develop instruments, including industrial/organizational, educational, and school psychologists, health outcomes researchers, program evaluators, and sociological measurers. Knowledge of basic descriptive statistics and elementary regression is recommended.

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