Discussion Questions

A. Researchers often use animal models to study human illnesses. Is this a valid way of studying these illnesses? What are the criteria that are needed to consider animal models valid facsimiles of human diseases? When and why do these models fall short of their intended aims?

B. Describe what comprises a randomized controlled trial (RCT). Although these have often been considered the gold standard in determining the efficacy of treatments, are there occasions where these should be abandoned and other approaches used?

C. What is a moderating effect and how does it differ from a mediating effect? Why is it so important for scientists and clinicians to determine the influence of moderating factors in relation to illness emergence? How can health psychologists play a role in uncovering the influence of moderating variables?

D. What are meta-analyses and systematic reviews and what makes them so important?

E. Define statistical power and discuss sample size in relation to studies linked to illness or any other topic. Are there occasions in which studies with low power ought to be considered seriously, and if not, then why not?

F. There are cases where an experimental approach cannot be conducted perfectly. Should such studies ever be conducted and should such studies ever be done at all? If your answer is ‘No’, then explain why not. If your answer is ‘Yes’, then describe situations or occasions where experiments cannot be perfect, but we just have to muddle through as best we can.

G. We all know that correlation does not imply causality. However, is this always entirely true? Under what conditions would you be willing to accept correlation as indicative of causal actions?

H. Studies are often conducted in animals in an effort to understand human illnesses and to develop treatments to prevent, limit or cure these illnesses. To what extent does this appear to be a valid approach? Furthermore, is the validity of animal models different for physical versus mental illnesses?