ERIC Number: ED243000
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1983-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Methodological Issues in Studying Elderly Populations: Looking at Survivors of the Holocaust.
Kahana, Boaz; And Others
To investigate the coping skills and adaptational outcomes among elderly survivors of the holocaust and a comparison group of aged individuals who did not endure extreme stress requires overcoming several methodological challenges. First, stress must be defined to include the personal meaning or evaluation of the sources of stress and its cumulative impact on the individual. Second, a scientifically sound sample must be selected by overcoming specific procedural obstacles, including universe identification, sampling bias, and gaining access to the population and control groups. The universe from which the sample is to be drawn must be identified, which may prove difficult in light of the poor enumeration of survivors. Volunteer bias in samples of survivors is potentially very high due to the prevalence of denial, as a means of defending against stress, in this population. The reluctance of survivors to participate may be the result of a variety of fears, including fear of reopening old wounds, stigma, self-disclosure, trivializing the experience, and misuse of information. Therefore, gaining access to survivors can be facilitated through sensitivity to their psychological needs. Finally, obtaining an adequate control group may be difficult due to the specificity of the population under study. Multiple comparison groups may be more appropriate. The third methodological challenge, carrying out interviews with survivors, has its own inherent obstacles, including problems of recall and structure. Clinically and ethically, interviewers must be experienced with exceptional populations and must be able to portray empathy, while remaining personally and emotionally uninvolved. (BL)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society (36th, San Francisco, CA, November 17-22, 1983).