Alternative Strategies for Creating “Relational” Family Data

Authors

  • LAWRENCE FISHER PH.D.,

    1. Chief, Psychology Service, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Fresno, California, and Professor Of Psychiatry, Family, and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Fresno-Central San Joaquin Valley Medical Education Program, 2615 East Clinton Avenue, Fresno, California 93703.
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  • RONALD F. KOKES PH.D.,

    1. Director, Behavioral Medicine Unit, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Fresno, California, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, Fresno-Central San Joaquin Valley Medical Education Program.
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  • DONALD C. RANSOM PH.D.,

    1. Associate Professor of Family and Community Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.
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  • SUSAN L. PHILLIPS M.A.,

    1. Research Associate, University of California, San Francisco.
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  • PAMELA RUDD PH.D.

    1. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of California San Francisco.
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  • The research upon which this paper was based was supported by a grant from the Veterans Administration Research Advisory Group and by NIMH grant No. 38468. We express our appreciation to Bernard Bloom for his helpful comments and suggestions.

Abstract

A major problem facing family clinicians and researchers is creating data that will reflect the family as a unit. To address this problem, we present a framework for family assessment based on three measurement strategies: individual family member assessment, relational family assessment, and transactional family assessment. Within this context, we present several categories of methods for combining individual family member data into “relational” scores that reflect the couple or family as a unit. The problems and benefits of each method are presented, and it is suggested that the choice of method is dependent upon the content of the assessment, the theory underlying the content, and the statistical properties of the individual family member scores.

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