Semester Report Sample


Client:  Joe Jones

Department:  Psychology

Consultant:  Marie Pedley

File Number:  97-999

Major Prof:  Sigmund Fry

Initial Meeting Date:  9/9/97

Meeting Attendees:   Joe Jones, Sigmund Fry, Marie Pedley, George McCabe

Statement of Problem:   To study the effect of writing about a personally upsetting experience on students'adjustments and health care utilization as measured by standardized instruments.

Goal of This Project:   Ph.D. dissertation and journal article.

Background:  Research indicates that encouraging people to write or talk about their thoughts and feelings about a personally upsetting experience is associated with improvements in immune functioning, reductions in physician visits for illness, and enhanced self reports of general well-being. Active inhibition of thinking and feeling about unpleasant experiences can serve as a cumulative stressor on the body, increasing the probability of stress related symptoms including deleterious changes in information processing. In addition, it has been shown that individuals who are psychologically distressed, but maintain an illusion of mental health through defensive denial, seem to be at greater risk for illness.

The client collected most of the data at the time of the initial meeting.

Sixty students were selected from a pool of students taking the course EDPS 100 and randomly assigned to the treatment and control groups. The pretest consisted of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) and the Impact of Event Scale which are psychological measures and the Medical Symptoms Checklist, which is the physiological measure. Subjects also responded to the Eysenk Neuroticism Scale and the Early Memory Test, which measure psychological variables that are hypothesized to moderate the effect of writing about a personally upsetting experience on students' psychological and physiological adjustment. The intervention was started 3 days after the pretest and consisted of the treatment group writing about personally upsetting experiences for 20 minutes on 4 continuous days. The control group wrote factual information about trivial topics. The posttest was administered immediately after the intervention on the fourth day and consisted of the PANAS, the Impact of Event Scale and a Medical Symptoms Checklist. There will be a follow-up assessment after 8 weeks.

One of the questions that the clients had was related to the use of the data obtained on the Eysenk Neuroticism Scale and the Early Memory Test. These scales yield interval data. However, earlier research has utilized a model that conceptualizes these variables as orthogonal and places individuals in four resulting categories. Since there is some lack of clarity about the four categories, the clients were undecided about using the variables in a continuous form or in a categorical form. It was suggested that this decision should be based on preliminary analyses. Specifically,the data on the Eysenck and EMT should be plotted for each group (pretest and posttest). The number of subjects falling in each category should be examined. The category that the clients are really interested in is the one in which the individuals are on the positive end of the EMT and negative of the Eysenk scale. This category is called the Illusory Mental Health. Another question was related to testing the moderating effect of illusory mental health. It was decided to keep that decision pending till the decision regarding the form of the variable was made. A tentative suggestion was made to do a regression analysis with neuroticism and EMT scores as independent variables. If the interaction effect is significant, the product of the two scores could be used as a covariate. The general layout of the study (pretest,intervention, posttest, follow-up) would be:

G1 G2
S1..............S30 S31..............S60
T1 ..... .....
T2 ..... .....
T3 ..... .....

Where: G1=treatment group, G2=control group & T1=pretest, T2=posttest, T3=follow-up

Progress During Current Semester:  A non-traditional initial meeting was held in the client's department meeting room and several students were present. These students were working on various aspects of the project and were invited to the meeting so they could observe a consulting session and learn more about the project.

The client completed data plots for the pretest and posttest group. The client will request another meeting when the suggested regression is complete.

Current Status:  Continuing

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