Psychological testing is a tool to properly assess behaviors and characteristics of individuals. Results of psychological testing are often presented through statistical tables that allow evaluation and comparison of the different variables tested against set norms. This paper will review an article lifted from the Health Psychology journal and determine the appropriateness of the psychological testing instruments used in the study. For this purpose, the article chosen is “Evolution of Biopsychosocial Model: Prospects and Challenges for Health Psychology” written by Jerry Suls and Alex Rothman in 2004.
Article Summary The Biopsychosocial Model has enabled health psychologists in the search for a multi-level, multi-system approach to human functioning (Suls & Rothman, 2004). This idea is based on the premise that there is an intrinsic relationship between what is physical, psychological and social. However according to the research of Suls and Rothman, there are marked challenges that the model faces that have essentially impeded the progress of its full potential as a research, intervention and practice tool.
The article’s ultimate goal was to determine what can be done to ensure the continuous refinement and evolution of the biopsychosocial model (Suls & Rothman, 2004). As a means to determine the viability of the biopsychosocial model as a multi-faceted instrument to help explain an individual’s health psychology, Suls and Rothman resorted to the use of statistical tests in psychology. By conducting frequency tests and factor analysis, the team of Suls and Rothman came up with a list of recommendations in the model’s areas of research, training, policy and funding, and practice.
These recommendations are to further utilization of the links between biological, psychological, social, and even macro-cultural variables, with the ultimate aim of enhancing health (2004). Through the tests five issues were also identified to be crucial in the progress of the biopsychosocial model as a legitimate approach to health assessment. The article concluded by highlighting the various advancements in health psychology, particularly with the biopsychosocial model. However, Suls and Rothman stressed that the full potential of the model in terms of the ability to advance the theory and practice remain untapped (2004).
Only a strong commitment to the model and it implications would establish long-term success of its involvement in health psychology (Suls & Rothman, 2004). Psychological Testing Instruments Used The article of Suls and Rothman did not explicitly discuss the test they used to assess the biopsychosocial model. In spite of this, it can be deduced from the tables they presented and the discussion of their findings that they relied on statistical tests in psychology in data-gathering.
Statistical tests are commonly used to analyze results of a psychological research (Green & D’Oliveria, 1982). In fact many social sciences, particularly psychology, necessitate the use of statistical inference to explain findings (Meehl, 1967). In this particular article where the bulk of the fact-finding are based on peer research, two statistical tests in psychology were used. Suls and Rothman conducted frequency tests two times in their research study. Frequency tests are the most helpful tool when comparing data against each other (Lane, 2004).
Through frequency tests, marked differences in independent variables are clearly distinguished. To measure the progression of the biopsychosocial model as a accepted concept in health psychology, Suls and Rothman conducted a frequency test on the use of the term “biopsychosocial” in journals and articles of Medline from 1974 to 2001, totals of which were group into a 3-year period interval (2004). Suls and Rothman likewise applied a frequency test to measure the integration of behavioral approaches to medical science in the study (2004).
They reviewed articles in 4 major medical journals namely New England Journal of Medicine, Lancet, Journal of the American Medical Association, and the Annals of Internal Medicine between the years of 1974 and 2001 (Suls and Rothman, 2004). Once again, they grouped the results into 3-year period intervals. From the raw frequency scores collected, they were able to produce a frequency polygon. A frequency polygon is the best way to present data gathered from frequency tests because it shows the shape of distribution of measured variables (Lane, 2004).
Apart from frequency tests, Suls and Rothman also used factor analysis test. Factor analysis is one of the most commonly used statistical tests in various disciplines. It is used to determine patterns of relationships between variables (Gorsuch, 1983). In the area of psychology, factor analysis is commonly applied in intelligence research but it can also be used in other areas, like personality, behavior, belief, and even theory assessment. In this instance, factor analysis was used to assess the attitude of health psychologists towards the biopsychosocial model.
The biopsychosocial model is dependent on the interaction between the biological, psychological, and social factors within an individual (Suls and Rothman, 2004). Suls and Rothman theorized that health psychologists are more likely to focus heavily on the psychological factor alone in the biopsychosocial model (2004). Therefore they used factor analysis to measure the presence of all the factors in articles written within a 12-month period, November 2001-September 2002 in Health Psychology. This particular application is called confirmatory factor analysis.
It is used when the concern is to determine the number of variables that conform to a pre-determined theory set (Gorsuch, 1983). The value of this test is to assess the validity of preconceived ideas. In the case of Suls and Rothman’s study, it is the leaning of health psychologists towards psychological factors to assess an individual’s health. The article of Suls and Rothman did not make use of any standardized psychological testing instruments. The reason may be due to the fact that it is a study aimed at determining the advancement of a framework of health assessment.
However, they still integrated valuable statistical testing in psychology to explain clearly the findings they have gathered. Effectiveness of the Psychological Testing Instruments Used The main premise of Suls and Rothman’s article is that the biopsychosocial model has proven remarkably successful in shaping the way health psychologists view an individual’s overall functioning (Suls and Rothman, 2004). To prove this point, the team proceeded to measure the familiarity of the concept among health psychologists by reviewing published journals in Medline, and four other notable medical journals.
The raw data collected was then subjected to different statistical tests commonly applied in the field of psychology. From there Suls and Rothman were able to formulate recommendations vital to the advancement of the biopsychosocial model as a valid instrument in health assessment. The effectiveness of psychological testing is based mainly on two factors, validity and reliability. Validity measures the soundness of a test against its set objectives. On the other hand reliability measures the accuracy of the test in terms of producing consistent results.
To determine whether the result of psychological testing is effective, researchers usually turn to statistical tests. In this case where no standardized psychological testing instruments were used, the effectiveness of the study may be directly correlated with the quality of the results produced by the statistical tests used by Suls and Rothman. Suls and Rothman resorted to frequency test to explain their findings on the use of “biopsychosocial” as a term in medical journals. The test confirmed their initial assumption that the biopsychosocial model has helped in advancing health psychology in the last 25 years.
The frequency test showed a consistent rise in the use of “biopsychosocial” as a term in medical journals. However, Suls and Rothman are quick to stress that this may also be due to the increase of the number of articles published that deal with behavior in recent years (2004). They also used frequency test to assess the integration of behavioral approach to medical science (Suls & Rothman, 2004). The results attested as well to the increased integration of behavioral approaches to medical science in the last 30 years (Suls & Rothman, 2004).
Finally a factor analysis test was conducted to determine the reliance of health psychologists on the variables essential to the biopsychosocial model. The factor analysis test clearly showed that health psychologists are still biased in considering psychological issues over biological, and even social. This correctly proved the initial postulation of Suls and Rothman. Considering that the statistical tests in psychology used in the research of Suls and Rothman ably supported their theory, it can be said that they were effective.
However, since the study is mostly a review of journals it is not enough to completely determine the actual advancement of the biopsychosocial model as a tool for health assessment. George Schwartz in his book suggested that the biopsychosocial model faces a challenge with the use of empirical testing (1982). Empirical testing is a vital component to any psychological research. Another is that the model remains a concept in research. It has yet to transcend from research to practice, then back to research (Keefe, Buffington, Studts & Rumble, 2002). This is when the recommendations of Suls and Rothman become important.
They were able to identify important areas that are tangible and measurable that will help in the transition of the model from a mere conceptual framework to a fully working tool in health assessment. As a stand-alone article, Suls and Rothman presented a thorough exposition of their chosen subject. However, based on the criteria of the article review, it did not meet the standards required. The fundamental component needed in the review is psychological testing in which the article did not have. On the other hand, the statistical tests were very helpful in understanding the basis of Suls’ and Rothman’s conclusion.
Considering the statistical tests were properly chosen and used, it can be concluded that in the end the article of Suls and Rothman was a success. References Gorsuch, R. (1983). Factor analysis. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum Green, J. & D’Oliveria, M. (1982). Learning to use statistical tests in psychology 3rd edition. NY: Open University. Keefe, F. , Buffington, A. , Studts, J. , & Rumble, M. (2002). Behavioral medicine: 2002 and beyond. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 70, 852-856. Lane, D. (2004, Augus 10). Frequency polygons. Connections. Retrieved August 25, 2010,