February 7, 2008

Longitudinal Study of Generations and Mental Health, 1971 - 1997

In January 2008, each student in FSoS 5014, Introduction to Quantitative Family Research Methods, was asked to summarize and evaluate information about a secondary data set used in the family field. The following summary was prepared by Amanda Matzek.

Study Purpose
To investigate how intergenerational relationships experienced social support and the impact on mental health. The purpose was also to look at how mental health of individual family members changed over time.

Principal Investigators
Vern L. Bengtson and Margaret Gatz

Waves of Data Collection
Wave One: 1971-72
Wave Two: 1984-85
Wave Three: 1988-90
Wave Four: 1991
Wave Five: 1994
Wave Six: 1997

Participants
Data were collected from 345 multigenerational families. Individual family members were participants. The first three waves included three generations. At wave 4, 5, and 6: 116 female and 82 male great grandchildren were included in the study to include four generations.

Wave One
Data were collected from 2,044 participants; Grandparents age 60, parents age early 40s, and grandchildren age 15 to 26

Wave Two
Data were collected for 1,331 participants; Grandparents age 72-74, parents age early 50s, and grandchildren age 27 to 42

Wave Three
Data were collected from 1,483 participants; Grandparents age 75, parents age mid-50s, and grandchildren age 30-43

Wave Four
Data were collected from 1, 734 participants; Grandparents age 78, parents age early 60s, and grandchildren age 33-46. A fourth generation of great-grandchildren was added and averaged age 20.

Wave Five
Data were collected from 1,682 participants; Grandparents age 81, parents age mid 60s, grandchildren age 36-49, great-grandchildren age 23

Wave Six
Data were collected from ___ participants (number not indicated in archives); Grandparents age 84, parents age early 70s, grandchildren age 39-52, great-grandchildren age 26

Types of Data
Survey/Questionnaire

Strengths
This study incorporates multiple family members’ perspectives so that family level analyses can be conducted. It encourages the study of family processes. Also, the study is longitudinal and this allows for researchers to examine how families change over time.

Weakness
As with any longitudinal study, attrition was an issue. The increase in participants in later waves is probably from the inclusion of fourth generation family members in the study.

Accessibility
The data are easily accessible at the Henry A. Murray Research Archive at Harvard University. An interested researcher need only complete an application for use of the data. The application primarily asks for a summary of the proposed project and the researcher’s affiliation. The researcher has the option to use the data set onsite (at the research center) or at a cost, have the files be made available online.

Usefulness
This data set appears to be extremely useful for the family field. It provides data on intergenerational relationships and the longitudinal factor may allow us to look at these family relationships over time. The other focus of the study was on mental health, so it would be interesting to see what types of questions were asked of these families. The data set may be limited to those individuals interested in families and mental health.

Website
http://dvn.iq.harvard.edu/dvn/faces/study/StudyPage.jsp At this website, there is general information about the data set, which includes information about the purpose of the study as well as information about how data was collected for each wave. This site also has a link to the application for use of the data.

Posted by hgroteva at February 7, 2008 10:51 PM