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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Why Research Design and Methods Is So Crucial to Understanding Drug Use/Abuse: Introduction to the Special Issue

Lawrence M Scheier
Evaluation & the Health Professions 2018, 41 (2): 135-154
29409362
The collection of articles in this special issue both raise the bar and inspire new thinking with regard to both design and methodology concerns that influence drug use/abuse research. Thematically speaking, the articles focus on issues related to missing data, response formats, strategies for data harmonization, propensity scoring methods as an alternative to randomized control trials, integrative data analysis, statistical corrections to reduce bias from attrition, challenges faced from conducting large-scale evaluations, and employing abductive theory of method as an alternative to the more traditional hypothetico-deductive reasoning. Collectively, these issues are of paramount importance as they provide specific means to improve our investigative tools and refine the logical framework we employ to examine the problem of drug use/abuse. Each of the authors addresses a specific challenge outlining how it affects our current research efforts and then outlines remedies that can advance the field. To their credit, they have included issues that affect both etiology and prevention, thus broadening our horizons as we learn more about developmental processes causally related to drug use/abuse and intervention strategies that can mitigate developmental vulnerability. This is the essential dialogue required to advance our intellectual tool kit and improve the research skills we bring to bear on the important questions facing the field of drug use/abuse. Ultimately, the goal is to increase our ability to identify the causes and consequences of drug use/abuse and find ways to ameliorate these problems as we engage the public health agenda.

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