The research study titled, "Parents' perceptions and attitudes on childhood obesity: AQ-methodology study" by Akhtar-Danesh et al. (2010) details the perceptions that parents have toward the cause of obesity, how much obesity affects health, and the obstacles that exist in successfully implementing an obesity prevention program for children. Due to the nature of the research experiment, the test that was used was an appropriate method to attain the necessary information. In this particular experiment, the data collection procedures entailed collecting answers from parents by having them answer twenty questions about their feelings on the three aforementioned topics. The data was a convenience sample collected at a Medical Center in Canada (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). Their subjects consisted of twenty parents that were already available and able to accurately answer their questions. They were asked their opinions in a face-to-face manner and were allowed to answer in any way that they chose to. That is, the data was open-ended and there were no specific leads given by experimenter.
In order to ensure that the protection of the rights of the participants was implemented, a preapproval by the Institutional Review Board was obtained (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). This means that the researchers underwent a variety of steps in order to assure that the experiment would be ethical, that it would benefit the advancement of science and/or medicine, and that the project would actually give the results that it was supposed to (Babbie, 2010). A research assistant in the particular study at hand explained all of the details of the study directly to the parents so that they would know exactly what it was that they were getting themselves into. The data collection tool used in this study was appropriate for the validity of the study; however, the reliability of the study can be questioned. By asking the parents exactly what their opinions on the subject of childhood obesity were, they were able to get valid answers since the researchers targeted parents that were taking their children to their well-visit checks at the clinic. The reliability however is a bit questionable because the population targeted will not be representative of all parents, as the hypothesis of this particular experiment implies. Since the parents were a convenience sample, the individuals questioned were already concerned with the health of their children, as they were already taking them to a medical environment. The open-endedness of the questionnaire also makes it more difficult to assume complete reliability. If this same experiment were to be repeated in another environment, it would possibly produce different results. In an attempt to remedy these problems, the researchers also implemented a second portion to this test where a convenience sample of one hundred parents from the same clinic were contacted by phone and asked to rank the results from the previous part of the experiment (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). They were instructed on exactly how to properly rank the information given and were given a consent form in order to follow protocols. The Likert-like scale implemented allowed these parents to rank the responses on a scale of "most disagree" and "most agree." This act in itself took the responsibility away from the researchers and reduced the possible bias that the experimenters could have had in analyzing the results.
The data analysis procedures were appropriate for the data collected because it provided a measurement of something that may have seemed immeasurable. AQ-methodology format allows for qualitative data to be collected and analyzed through quantitative means (Babbie, 2010). The aim of the study was to detect and measure the perceptions of parents toward childhood obesity. Perception in itself implies an abstract thought -- something that is personal, but informative. Solely measuring this concept through statistical tools would be impossible. However, in an attempt to relay unbiased and straight forward information, Q-methodology and factor analysis were the appropriate tools to use. This was the best way to conduct this experiment so that their hypothesis could be best answered. It becomes difficult to measure perception in the sense that the researchers want to attain as much raw data as possible, without necessarily interrupting the flow or design of the experiment. The researchers avoided leading the parents' thoughts by not giving them suggestive sayings or options of perceptions from which to choose from; they were able to measure the precise information that they wanted.
There are key distinctions between the qualitative and the quantitative data presented. The qualitative data came in the form of the actual responses that the parents gave (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). There was no numerical questionnaire to fill out, nor were the parents asked to rank their preferences in any particular order. As previously mentioned, the data that was obtained came directly from the parents and were in the form of straight, personal answers. The parents used words to describe their thoughts and were not coerced by having to fill out already-made questionnaires or surveys. These are all key features of a qualitative data collection method (Babbie, 2010). The quantitative data was then obtained by performing statistical analysis through the implementation of the Q-methodology and factor analysis. Once the questionnaires and the qualities acquired from the respective questionnaires were ranked and turned into numerical values, the qualitative data crossed over to being quantitative information. This is a key value as it allows the data to become more comprehensible and better to dissect. Q-sort tables were used to get statistical data such as the mean and the standard deviation (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). This allowed for every parents response to be equally compared to one another. By doing this, the incidents of indiscretion could be reduced.
After all of the data was obtained and scientifically analyzed, the researchers concluded that the majority of the parents that participated in the research were aware of the implications that could potentially lead to an increase in obesity among children. They agreed on statements that indicated healthy eating habits and proper weight management and mostly disagreed in enforcing habits that directly correlated with the increase in childhood obesity (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). Overall, the parents that were interviewed and those parents that were then used to sort the information together and provide a proper ranking method agreed on their perceptions of obesity among children. They knew that by giving children healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits and avoiding fast food locations, the health of their children would increase, while maintaining the risk of obesity at a minimum. Their views on the role of exercise in childhood obesity varied a little bit, with some parents disagreeing with regular exercise regimens for their children (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). However, overall the consensus implied that parents were quite aware of the nutrition necessary to prevent childhood obesity and knew the implications of health in obesity prevention.
The parents of this study are supposed to represent how aware parents are about the correlation between nutrition, exercise, and health (Akhtar-Danesh, 2010). The scientific merit of this study stems from discovering just how much parents know about the health education of their children. By measuring the perceptions of parents, researchers can assume that the health of their children will be taken care of. It also demonstrates that by simply providing parents with more awareness on the issue of childhood obesity and the implications of nutrition on health, childhood obesity can be reduced with the hopes of complete elimination. However, despite the aforementioned strengths associated with the scientific merit of this study, there were also a couple of weaknesses. To begin with, although the study achieved what the researchers wanted it to, it does not provide scientific information that could be used in places outside of this particular clinic in Canada, nor does it represent the awareness and perception of parents in general. It only allows for researchers to assume that the parents that were…