Hutchinson Study, Gold Standard or Spruce Goose: An Epistemological View of Prevention Research

Livingood, Jr., William C.; Woodhouse, Carolyn D.
June 2001
American Journal of Health Studies;2001, Vol. 17 Issue 3, p138
Academic Journal
Proponents of experimental research design consider it to be the only means for establishing cause and effect relationships, and therefore the optimal design for drawing conclusions. An editorial accompanying publication of the Hutchinson Smoking Prevention Project reinforced claims in the public press of the study being definitive, and the editorial acclaimed the Hutchinson study, a classic experimental research design project, as the gold standard of prevention research design. Limitations of experimental design, inherent in the Hutchinson study, are discussed within the context of epistemology, questioning the findings and suggesting the importance of designs that are more sensitive to complexity and context.


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