It’s acknowledged that social epidemiology is the “study of the social determinants of health, implying that an important goal of public health is to identify and address factors in the social environment that may be related to health outcomes” (Berkman & Kawachi, 2000). To address the various problems faced by human beings psychosocial interventions trials are used to target individuals who are in problems with social issues such as smoking, alcoholism, drug abuse among others. It is worth noting that there are sets of good practices that need to be followed when dealing with individuals suffering from certain social or behavioral problems. Usually, before engaging in adopting the whole idea of psychosocial intervention, trials are carried out. More often than not the process is faced with serious issues making the results of a trial erroneous. However, it is worth noting that efforts have been put in place to minimize such errors. Before proceeding with the various things that might go wrong during psychosocial intervention trials, it will be rational to mention here that no research comprehensively shows that the approach can be effective without being used in combination with medication. This thus suggests that psychosocial intervention should not be considered as an alternative to medication.
According to Berkman & Kawachi, 2000 a major problem in psychosocial intervention trials is linked to how an adequate study group is recruited and enrolled. In most cases it has been shown that the sampling strategies used while identifying as well as enrolling individuals to the sample to be used is in most cases biased; ultimately making the entire study flawed. For instance, sensitive social and behavioral problems such as drug abuse entail the use of the snowball sampling technique so that the study can have easy access to the desired individuals. On the same note, the mechanisms to help retain the study subjects and follow-up plans may not work. This ultimately makes the entire work of external validity very difficult. This later translates to results that are not up to standard and therefore not appreciated by the interested stakeholders.
As suggested by Benfari, 1981 things also go wrong in psychosocial intervention trials when the study design is not well thought out. More often than not since the process is still in its developing stages the design used is weak, limited, and follows certain predetermined standards. Additionally how valid and the standard of quality of a study is greatly influenced by the kind of studies. For instance, non-random studies yield results that are weak and poor in quality. It is also important to note that when the study lacks certain criteria or standards, there are bound to have errors as well as the inability to substantiate the data from given research. Similarly, it has been noted that when carrying out psychosocial intervention trials, it is not possible to do what has been termed as blinding. With such a problem there are more issues with regards to how to examine or evaluate the results of any study or research without biases (Benfari, 1981).
From the review of the psychosocial intervention trial, it is evident that there are certain issues such as study design, sampling, retaining subjects among others that might go wrong during the entire process. In my view, with time the concept of psychosocial intervention trial will come of age and balance the major issues of concern. For this to be achieved there is a need to ensure that issues concerning methodology, conceptual as well as analytical problems are successfully wrestled with for the concept to find its way successfully into the science of social epidemiology.
Benfari, R.C. (1981). The multiple risk factor intervention trial (MRFIT) III: The model for intervention. Preventive Medicine, 10(1), 426-42.
Berkman, F. & Kawachi, I. (2000). Social epidemiology. New York: Oxford University Press.