Mental health among US citizens is one of the central concerns for the US healthcare system. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH, 2019), nearly one in five adult Americans (46.6 million in 2017) has psychological disorders. Therefore, finding ways to decrease this number is of extreme importance to US society. One of the possible strategies to lower the chance of mental illnesses is to engage in physical activity. In their article titled “A comparative study of mental health status between players and non-players,” Raut Tanuja and Ahmad (2015) utilize a quantitative approach to test if people who regularly engage in sports have a lower prevalence of psychological problems. The present paper aims to critically evaluate the methods used in the article by Raut Tanuja and Ahmad (2015) to understand the reliability of findings.
The purpose of research by Raut Tanuja and Ahmad (2015) was to determine if the mental of people who participated in sports (players) was different from the mental health of people who did not engage in such activity (non-players). The hypothesis was that the mental health of players was significantly better than that of non-players. The concept of mental health was operationalized using mental health inventory (MHI-38), which included five factors. The researchers conducted a survey using the tool in two groups. First, they recruited 20 male players who played at any inter-university game. Second, they randomly selected 20 students who did play any team sports. After that, the researchers compared the mean scores of surveys using statistical analysis.
The concept of mental health was transformed into six variables, including anxiety, depression, loss of behavior, positive affect, emotional ties, and life satisfaction. Therefore, six hypotheses were tested using two-sample t-tests. The hypotheses were that scores of MHI-38 were significantly different between the groups. After testing for significance, the researchers discussed the results and their implications.
Analysis of Methods
As mentioned above, the researchers utilized Student’s two-sample t-test as the primary method to understand if the mean scores were different between the two groups. According to Tanner (2016), the method is appropriate for the identified needs as two-sample t-tests are used when a researcher wants to compare two independent groups to see if their means are different. The two groups are independent, as there are no people included in both groups. At the same, the test can be used regardless of the sample size, which is crucial for the critiqued article, as the total number of participants is low (n=40). Therefore, in general, the method is appropriate for the type of data and the purposes of the research.
However, the methods may lead to bias, as the results are not controlled for any demographical and socio-cultural aspects. In other words, one cannot be sure that the only difference in the characteristics of the participants was the fact of participation in sports. Even though the description of the sampling method demonstrates that all the participants were approximately of the same age and the same gender, athletes may be more financially advantageous, be more popular, and have better love lives. Therefore, I would have included these three control variables, along with cultural background, to see if the results would remain significant. However, I would not be able to utilize two-sample t-tests to run the analyses.
Analysis of Results
The results of the research revealed that there were significant differences in the mean score of five out of six variables with a confidence level of 95%. The only variable that did not reach the significance level was life satisfaction. The researchers concluded that the mental health of players was significantly better than that of non-players. However, such a conclusion was not relevant, as the research had several limitations. First, the sample size was small, which affects the reliability of the findings (Tanner, 2016). Second, the sample characteristics do not support the generalizability of findings, as the results can be applied only to male students of a certain age in one geographical location. Third, the study did not include any control variables, which may lead to bias. Therefore, the conclusion that the population means the mental health of players and non-players was significantly different is an overgeneralization.
In order to improve the results, I would address the weakness of the study. Assuming that I wanted to use two-sample t-tests as my primary analysis method, I would have considerably increased the number of participants. I would have also included participants from various universities to demonstrate that the situation is similar among different geographical locations. These two alterations would have improved the reliability of the results.
The research conducted by Raut Tanuja and Ahmad (2015) had an adequate design that suited the purpose of the study. The analysis of the paper helped me two acquire a deeper understanding of how two-sample t-tests can be used in real-life research. I realized that there are many concerns that must be addressed before using the test, such as sample size and homogeneity of groups. At the same time, I learned to find flaws in the design of research and find ways to improve it. This knowledge will help me develop in my future career.
- National Institute of Mental Health. (2019). Mental illness. NIMH. Web.
- Raut Tanuja, S., & Ahmad, B. T. (2015). A comparative study of mental health status between players and non-players. International Journal of Sports Sciences & Fitness, 5(1), 109-114.
- Tanner, D. (2016). Statistics for the Behavioral & social sciences (2nd ed.). Bridgepoint Education.