Sleeping pills are generally perceived as a necessary evil in society. While they do help suffering people to get restful sleep they are also sometimes abused by some people similar to the way alcohol and other drugs are abused. The New York Times is one among the most popular magazines of United States and its article titled “Sleeping Pills Rising in Popularity among Young Adults” by Roni Caryn Rabin and dated January 14, 2009 revolves around the increasing use of sleeping pills by youngsters of today’s America.
Rabin (2009) observes that the use of sleeping pills has increased by nearly threefold among young and college-aged adults between 1998 and 2006 and this finding is based on an analysis of prescription drug claims from a large group of employers. Rabin notes that while sleeping pills were generally taken by people past their mid twenties, the recent statistics by Thomson Reuters shows that the most dramatic increase in use of sleeping pills between the years 1998 and 2006 has been in the age group of 18-24. The study observes that the most popular sleeping pills were the non-benzodiazepine hypnotics Ambien CR and Lunesta. Rabin speculates that the popularity of these drugs among youngsters may be because they are considered to be non-addictive and relatively safe compared to older medications. Moreover, the increasing use of sleeping pills by youngsters could be due to several factors: rise in mental disorders such as depression and anxiety that lead to chronic insomnia, increasing noise in college dormitories well past midnight, unscrupulous prescriptions by family doctors or internists without mental health diagnosis and changes in cultural attitudes toward medication use.
Health psychology is a relatively new field in psychology and focuses on how biological, psychological, and social factors affect health and illness. There are many problems associated with interpreting research results in the field of health psychology. One of them is that every problem in health psychology must be studied from various angles for the research finding to be conclusive. The research in the field of health psychology deals with understanding health and illness through patients’ adjustment to serious illnesses, their health beliefs, their mind and body connection, and the psychosocial factors that can reinforce healthy behaviors and prevent negative ones. Thus any research finding must be interpreted in the light of the social and environmental aspects in which the study was conducted and the psychological aspects of the individuals and their culture. The health psychology researcher is faced with a number of methodological and conceptual difficulties. They also find research findings difficult to interpret. One of the main difficulties in interpreting research findings in health psychology is the lack of operational definitions. As health psychology is a new field, there is a lack of operational definitions of broad concepts such as health, illness, stress, coping and pain and without such operational definitions, measurement, which is important to any research becomes difficult. There is a need for developing valid and reliable instruments for measurement in the realm of health psychology (Feuerstein et al, 1986). Another problem that crops up during the interpretation of research findings in the context of health psychology is related to the choice of appropriate control groups for etiological research on disease. When a researcher compares his or her group of interest with another it is possible for the other group to be a “healthy one” or “a group with other disorders” depending on the psychological and social factors surrounding the other group (Feuerstein et al, 1986). These are some of the many issues involving interpretation of research in the field of health psychology.
Rabin, Caryn Roni (2009). Sleeping Pills Rising in Popularity among Young Adults. The New York Times. Web.
Feuerstein, Michael; Labbe, E. Elise and Kuczmierczyk, R. Andrzej (1986). Health Psychology: A Psychobiological Perspective. Springer Publications, 1986.