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Qualitative Studies, Article Review Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1240

Article Review

Alvarado, M. I. (2004). Mucho camino: The experiences of two undocumented Mexican mothers participating in their child’s early intervention program. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 58, 521-530.

This study had the goal of outlining the lived experiences of two undocumented Mexican mothers as they participated in their child’s early intervention program. The title of this study very accurately defined the subject and objective of this study.

Alvarado noted that that Hispanic population is the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population, and that Mexican origin Hispanic are a large segment of the Hispanics in the U.S. Some of these Mexican residents are undocumented aliens, which means they have no legal right to reside in the U.S. This establishes barriers to them receiving proper child assistance for their children, even if the child was born in the U.S., and thus a U.S. citizen..

With the dramatic growth in Hispanic population throughout the country, and the substantial percentage of them as undocumented, understanding their lived experiences is highly relevant to my practice.

This case study of two specific undocumented Mexican mothers was a phenomenological study in which the phenomenon was observed and described.   This study used interviews, observation, and documentation to discover patterns in the data collected.  The phenomenon studied was the early intervention program that eh mothers’ children participated in.  This type of study asks questions about the essence of the experience of those participating in the phenomenon.

Alvarado focused on the context of the family as the base unit from which the phenomena of achieving sufficient health care for children.  In particular, the author wanted to understand how these mothers interacted with healthcare providers usually of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and how that impacts their experiences of the early intervention program.

As described by the author, participants were interviewed 3 or 4 times in their homes, for 1 to 2 hours in each interview.  The interviews were semi-structured using an interview guide. In addition, the interactions between the target child and family members added to the data, and other techniques included researcher journaling and review of archival data  such as the meeting minutes from the early intervention program, utility bills, photographs, and the family’s Individual Family Service Plan.

The sampling was done using a single early intervention program and using contacts with the program director, families meeting the inclusion criteria were invited to participate in the study. Only 2 families were chosen for selection based on willingness to participate and on their meeting the inclusion criteria (a child between 1 and 3 years, enrolled in  the early intervention program with an Individual Family Service Plan, and who had at least one parent self-identified as of Mexican origin who emigrated to the U.S.  In both selected families, the mother was the primary informant.

With a sample of only two, redundancy was not addressed. The inclusion criteria were clearly described, however, and the sample is one that is consistent with most practices in the U.S. serving the general population (as opposed to exclusively an upper class population).

The author states that informed consent was obtained in the initial interview. The project was also approved by an internal review board prior to soliciting participants.

Interviews and observations were performed in the participants’ homes. The researcher noted that she is from a Mexican ethnic background and from a Spanish-speaking home, thus providing her with empathy for the participants in this study and her interest in pursuing this line of research.

Since the participants were undocumented aliens, one aspect that was not addressed in terms of researcher bias was the attitude that researcher has toward such undocumented aliens. In many parts of the country, especially where there is a high percentage of such families, local prejudice against such families using state and local services can be fairly extreme. Given the researchers’ ethnic background, it may be presumed that the researcher does not share that prejudice, but it might be valuable to explicitly state that researcher attitude.

The researcher clearly explains how the data was collected and that the data from each interview was cross-checked for accuracy with the participant in Spanish before the following interview.

The author carefully describes the phenomenological analysis process used  The data from the two participants was not compared on the basis that each individual’s lived experiences of the situation were unique.  The goal of the analytical process was to discover commonalities in those lived experiences, with the purpose of identifying universals in the phenomenon studied. Specific themes were discovered in these two families including (1) that the mothers were active participants in the early intervention programs; (2) that the mothers used their understanding of their child to interpret and influence how outside opinions were received, noting that mothers’ opinions may not match that of healthcare professionals; (3) that the mothers struggled with communicating with the healthcare providers and actively tried to communicate their wishes for their children to the healthcare professional; (4) that their status as undocumented immigrants impacted all aspects of their lives.

the researcher described how the data was analyzed, and in particular how she tried to verify the accuracy of the transcripts of the interviews.  While the theme development was described in general, the specifics of the decision process was not included in this paper, possibly due to space limitations. Still, enough detail was provided on the process used to give substantial credibility to the analytical process as presented.

The four themes (mentioned earlier) were described and supported by specific detail from the interviews, observations, and archival data.  In the discussion section, the author also tied back the results to prior studies, thus providing confirmatory and theoretical basis for the conclusions drawn.

In terms of credibility, the data was collected from multiple sources and over several interviews, each one taking a substantial 1 to 2 hours of time. Thus, the credibility of the data presented seems good.

Transferability is more difficult to assess because of the sample being only two individual families. However, the selection and data collection process is such that it seems likely that the results defined in this phenomenological study are indeed reasonably universal for families in similar circumstances.

Dependability is well demonstrated in this study via the careful description of how data was collected and verified with the participants. Specific examples of the themes were also supported with data and quotations from the interviews.

Confirmability was used through the use of researcher journaling, and through verification of the results. This is the weakest of the rigor criteria since there is no evidence the researcher consulted with other experts on the interpretation of the data.

Again, this study is important because nearly all practices will end up dealing with Hispanic families in similar circumstances. Having a better understanding of these families’ lived experiences can only enhance the quality of care provided.

The study noted that these families exist in a constant state of tension due not only to financial pressures but also due to their undocumented status. The author provided useful suggestions for dealing with these families including (1) acknowledging the mother’s understanding of her child and her child’s needs, thus both establishing trust and second to question immediate perceptions of the child and thus expand practitioners’ abilities; (2) drawing on the parents’ expertise  and the family context to explain the status of the child; and (3) learning more about how families participate in child interventions and thus improve practioner awareness of family lifestyles and cultures.  These suggestions definitely contribute to a better informed practice, no matter what ethnic groups are being served.

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