Applied Theory and Methods
Theory: "a systematic way of understanding events or situations. It is a set of concepts, definitions, and propositions that explain or predict these events or situations by illustrating the relationships between variables."
Research method: "the strategies, processes or techniques utilized in the collection of data or evidence for analysis in order to uncover new information or create better understanding of a topic."
How can we explain why a person makes a health decision? How can we identify ways to change behavior? How do we know that a 5-question survey measuring depression symptoms is really measuring depression? These are questions that are of interest to researchers in applied theory and methods. We seek to understand how theory and research methods can be improved to better measure health outcomes and behaviors.
Psychometrics and Item Response Theory for Health Surveys
Measuring health behavior and health outcomes is not as simple as holding up a measuring tape. Some conditions - like diabetes - have blood tests. As of today, there is no blood test for depression or knowledge. Our research aims to identify better ways to measure health behavior. We use research methods to improve the accuracy and precision of the data health researchers collect. Our research has included:
Understanding HIV-related stigma among college students (James et al., 2020)
Measuring health insurance knowledge among college students (James et al., 2021)
Measuring depression, stress, and anxiety among Malaysians (Thiyagarajan et al., 2022)
Improving Mixed Methods Research Methodology
A central goal of our research is to improve the practice of mixed methods research. Mixed methods research combines quantitative and qualitative data to better understand a problem. Our research has helped develop:
Ways to integrate philosophical decisions in sampling within explanatory sequential mixed methods studies (James et al., 2022)
Using software for mixed methods integrative data analysis (Guetterman & James, 2023)