Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Among Women – Final Pilot Study Report

Abstract

This final pilot study report provides details on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among women by formulating a survey pilot study to analyze its prevalence and the effects that it has had on these particular individuals. Included herein are measuring tools that had been documented in relevant pieces of literature, questionnaire used in the survey, data analysis procedures, expected outcomes and possible implications.

Keywords: Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, pilot survey study.

Introduction

Over past two decades, psychologists, therapists and researchers have made it their life’s work to explore Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and all its convolutions. It was generally assumed that the condition mainly affected persons that had lived through shocking events that often included violent robberies, war scenarios and gruesome accidents.  An individual experiencing this condition re-lives past occurrences that appear frequently eliciting fear while looking out non-existent danger. Nonetheless, it is surprising that numerous studies had failed to make women the center of the research program, especially considering that this condition is universal and may affect both sides of the divide. The common axiom was that Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) only affected and manifested itself in male subjects who had been through traumatic experiences but nothing could be further from the truth. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) also affects women in the same way it does men and has been reported to have adverse effects on their mental stability. Women are increasingly becoming victims of rape; violent altercations and domestic violence, with most of them having undergone a sheltered upbringing that had not prepare them for such eventuality. Flashbacks of these events stream in torrents, affecting their day to day activities while disrupting their usual sleep pattern. The crippling effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) serve as justification for researchers and medical practitioners across the world to explore it and better lives in the process.  Those living under the yoke of this condition lead wretched lives, with it being their bane while also making numerous attempts to seek any possible remedy. Understanding the intricacies of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and its effects on women therefore becomes a noble cause whose sole intention is to ensure focus shifts to this grim reality. A pilot survey, therefore, serves an important role in evaluating possible gaps that still exist in addressing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in women. It is, however, vital to acknowledge that a holistic approach was utilized in this study since its main purpose was to provide results that would aid medical practitioners in providing remedy to both men and women. The purpose of this final report is to provide a general overview of this pilot survey study and all other elements encapsulated in it, including the steps that were taken when conducting it.

Literature Review

A review of available literature is an important step that needs to be underscored when conducting a pilot study.  This is because vital information on a particular subject matter serves as an important stepping stone to understanding what other authors had documented about the topic together with varied opinions. It is also during this stage that one can assess the expanse of the message available on the aforementioned area of study and whether there are gaps that need to be explored. In this case, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a common psychological disorder that has, over time, attracted a litany of academics seeking to fully comprehend it. All this began when researchers decided to explore the effects that the war theatre had on soldiers returning back home from battle. Evidence of psychological disturbance was evident when they would constantly re-live their experience, which was often detrimental to their mental health. Acclimatizing to civilian life was challenging for these individuals since these stressful experiences were always hanging over their heads. It was only lately when doctors extended these manifestations to women who have had firsthand experience with violence meted out by persons closest to them. All symptoms recorded in women were consistent with those exhibited by men who had previously served as the most suitable test subjects. In comparison, there was no difference in the demeanor of men who had been clinically diagnosed as suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and women who had experienced traumatic incidences in the course of their lives. Sexual assault and violence imposed by partners are common causes of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and have been explored by scholars seeking to gain an in-depth perspective into its causative agents. It is through such literature that a pilot survey finds its footing, which enables it to delve into the subject matter mentioned.

The first step taken in this particular study was to review measuring tools that had been used in previous peer reviewed articles.  By so doing, it was possible to assess the methods that had already been used before suggesting a test item that would be appropriate when carrying out the study.  A research study integral to this pilot survey was ‘Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder among Battered Women in Lebanon’ that sought to explore an issue that was ubiquitous in Lebanese culture.  The main objective was to put this issue into perspective in a culture that remained mum on the issue. Men were the aggressors with women being on the receiving end of this state of affairs  (Khadra, Wehbe, Fiola, Skaff, & Nehmé, 2014). In unique fashion, this study explored how widespread this state of affairs was, possible dependence on socio-demographic variables and risk factors responsible for its existence. Questionnaires were, therefore, the best option as a measuring tool since they would enable the researchers conduct interviews on the phenomenon’s prevalence. It is also vital to acknowledge that a bodily abuse scale came in handy in the identification of women who might have suffered from the effects of physical abuse. Moreover, it was this particular approach that acted as a motivational factor in deciding to settle on a questionnaire as a measuring tool since it would be integral in meeting the objectives stated. All ethical considerations were put into account to ensure that all participants were well aware of what they were getting into, in addition to providing a certain level of confidentiality. In dealing with matters as sensitive as abuse, questionnaires play a special role since they enable the subjects to provide researchers with the much needed information devoid of any difficulties.

Additionally, the pilot survey also sought guidance from Sexual Assault and Identity Disruption: A Sociological Approach to Posttraumatic Stress’ in a bid to better understand Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in women.  Unequivocal evidence from this peer reviewed article indicated that there is a direct link between sexual assault and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It is, however, interesting that this particular study made use of online surveys specifically targeting female and tans-gender members of the student body. Protecting the institution’s identity was vital to ensure that information about the participants was not leaked, making certain that they were comfortable sharing information about the ordeals. The researchers chose the Sexual Experiences Survey tool which was an excellent selection considering the study sought to establish evidence of coercion and bodily force. An evaluation of this measuring tool reveals that it was most preferred due to its malleability, low cost of execution while being able to engage the audience appropriately. Furthermore, an evaluation of all available research tools in evaluating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) was important before ultimately making a decision. Liu, Jiang, & Wu (2017), for instance, sought to analyze this particular issue by observing ovarian cancer patients undergoing treatment in Chinese health facilities. Multiple mediation models are put to use here after incorporating convenience sampling ensuring that those selected fit the requirements spelled out by the researchers. Beyond Blue (2017) also sought to investigate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from the context of trauma, the subject’s culture, cases of suicide and issues of transition. The main objective of this particular study was to improve people’s understanding of this disorder, especially within the context of incarcerated persons. To obtain dependable  results, the study made use of Qualitative interviews, clinical diagnostic interviews in addition to a Paper-based Structured Questionairre.

Out of all the tools mentioned, a questionairre would be most suitable since it will reveal more truths about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder ( PTSD) as experienced by women. The general idea here is to choose a tool that will reeduce the subject’s chances of feeling vulnerable, and in the process allowing them to share their most intimate experiences. Checking the items choosen againts the study’s objectives is vital in ensuring that all set goals are achieved within the shortest span possibe. Moreover, considering the subjects susceptiblies was an imporant step in ensrusing that they were not offended in any way during the course of the pilot survey.  The use of gender sensitive language plays a major role in making certain that the environment created is enabling and allows the subjects to provide all information necessary to make the study a success. Simplifying the language used  also goes a long way in ensuring that subjects are able to fully comprehend the question being asked. By so doing they will succeed in proving  information that is accurate while answering the questions being asked in the best way possible. The provision of a criteria for women who fit the description of individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is also vital in ensuring that only the right people are selected to participate in the study. Obtaining this type of information would go a long way in making sure that information recorded is accurate and from persons who have borne the brunt of this disorder. It is always necessary to make certain that a pilot survey study has the right individuals taking part to ensure that no objections are made later on by persons who in advertently poke holes on the vality of the information recorded.  Accuracy is key since Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (POST) is a serious condition  that needs to be treated with the importance it deserves, aiding such individuals receive aid in the long haul.

Questionnaire for Pilot Study

As mentioned earlier, the use of a questionnaire in this study will aid in ensuring that the fidelity of the end result is assured. It has already been established that a large majority of the women experiencing symptoms associated with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were victims of either sexual or physical abuse. Emotional scars inflicted during these horrendous ordeals cut deep and there is a high likelihood that an interview setting would trigger emotional breakdowns. If this happens to be the case, it would mean that the pilot study would cease to be ethical while exhibiting blatant disregard for what these consideration espouse. It is therefore tantamount that the dignity of test subjects be safeguarded while obtaining crucial information. It is also important to acknowledge that there are a plethora of aspects that constitute Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). All these elements need to stand out boldly in those women taking part to ensure that the minimum threshold is met. By so doing, the questionnaires will provide succinct information that can be evaluated before making an inference. Pilot studies are often used as a stepping stone to further research, which is why margins of error cannot be tolerated. Evaluation of all possible symptoms would mark the beginning of this rigorous assessment to separate the wheat from the chaff. Those who qualify would also have to undergo thorough Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) screening to ascertain whether or they suffer from this malady from a clinical perspective. It would also be prudent to keep take it’s prevalence into account and the exact number of individuals who have been documented and positively identified as patient. Possible treatment options should always be on the table to figure out the exact number of individuals who have benefited from those and those who are yet to receive any form of assistance.  Most importantly, its recurrence should never be ruled out since a relapse of the subconscious is a reality that many have had to grapple. Women requiring continual care and assistance are therefore a common sight even when treatment options are made available.

A test item that central to this study is the screening process necessary in ensuring that the individual being screened is indeed suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The possibility that individuals who do not meet a certain criteria might participate in any study is usually a possibility.  Responsibility lies squarely in the researcher’s hands to ensure that all loopholes are sealed to ensure that those participating qualify to volunteer information. In this case the questionnaire formulated sought to determine whether those claiming to suffer from bouts of trauma exhibit glaring symptoms. These symptoms will only be brought to light using a line of questioning that focusing on personal experience. Here, objective questions are most preferred to provide answers that are precise without giving room for any ambiguity when attempting to translate the results. More important than the selection process is measuring the effects that these occurrences have had on those being interviewed. Common features of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the symptoms that occur frequently during the course of the said individual’s life. Persons who have had been through traumatic experiences often report having distressing flashbacks that leave them stressed and in shock. Inquiring about the existence and frequency of these occurrences serves an important purpose since they are important pointers in the direction that is to be chartered by the pilot study. A combination of open and close-ended questions serves an essential purpose in the eliciting of information that ultimately determines whether or not a particular individual fits the bill. Women represent a unique segment of the population since the response to traumatic experiences dramatically differs from that of men. Women have been known to experience a certain level of dejection and detachment from reality. Closed questions come in handy in this situation since question asked will not dig into the very details that subjects intend to avoid by all means possible. The burden that individuals exhibiting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have to bear serves as an additional test item. In truth, these women’s lives are disrupted making it difficult for them to lead life in the same manner as before. Explanations in such a case are a necessity to ensure that details on how their lives changed are discussed.

Throughout the course of this pilot survey, the adverse impacts of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) were put into account when assessing the best technique to employ when providing the questionnaires to select individuals. All those participating were periodically briefed on what the study will involve to ensure that they were fully aware of what they were getting themselves into. Ethical stipulations clearly spell out that all those participating need to be made aware of the study’s purpose to avoiding situations where they would take offence when approached using a particular line of questioning. The main purpose of conducting a background check on the topic used to formulate questions to be used during in the questionnaire stage is to find out sensitive subjects that may elicit sharp reaction from subjects. It is therefore fundamental that special attention is paid to ensuring that all those taking part are there on their own volition and were not coerced into taking part. Ignoring this tenet is equivalent to flouting key stipulations provided when carrying out successful questionnaire sessions. In addition to this, the privacy of all those taking part has to be assured before divulging any information meant to benefit the pilot study meet its goal. As mentioned earlier, women exhibiting symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) have gone through a great deal of emotional pain and would, in most cases, want to keep this information confidential. Betraying their trust by making details that had been provided in secret public goes a long way in denting the trust that these individuals had put on a researcher. Questionnaires are a central element when carrying out any pilot survey since the data collected is important in deducing issues plaguing a certain group of individuals. Assuring test subjects of a study’s virtuous nature and commitment towards assuring them of their privacy is an important step in getting them to cooperate fully.


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