Wednesday, April 20, 2011

So How are You Going to Do This?

Some of you maybe wondering how we are going to go about assessing the long-term impact of political conflict on young people. Well here is the timeline for the project. Basically there are five phases of the project.

1. Group and Key Informant Interviews - Part of the innovation of this project is to create a culturally relevant measure of well-being. Typically, people who study the effects of conflict tend to focus too narrowly on the psychological impact. Differently, the PAL project departs of this typical approach by facilitating the creation of a culturally-driven, holistic assessment of well-being. In order to create this measure we needed to hear from local Palestinians what well-being means in their culture. In February and March of 2010, Barber (PI) and Spellings (doctoral student) went to the West Bank, E. Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip to conduct group and key informant interviews alongside the project's Palestinian colleagues.

2. Instrument Creation - Once the February and March interviews were transcribed, the PAL research team in Tennessee coded the interviews for thematic content and from the themes and sub-themes wrote survey questions which attempt to capture all the domains of well-being (more on the domains and process of creating the survey questions in a later post). In January, 2011 the 200-item version of the Multi-Domain Adult Functioning Inventory (MDAFI) was created and sent to our Palestinian colleagues for pilot testing.

In addition to MDAFI, the research team at Tennessee began designing an Even History Calendar with the help of calendar expert Dr. Robert Belli. The calendar is designed to capture an individuals life history while maximizing memory recall and accuracy (more on this in a later post). It will be used in the BIG Data Collection phase of the project.

3. Pilot of MDAFI - Currently (June 2011) the 200-item version of MDAFI is being piloted on a representative sample of 500 Palestinian adults in the West Bank, E. Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip. Results of the pilot data will be analyzed during the 2011 summer months.

4. The BIG Data Collection - In the fall of 2011 the BIG data collection will begin. This phase include nationally representative sample of 1500 Palestinian adults who will complete both the MDAFI and Event History Calendar. The aim with this phase of the project is to link life expereinces with current levels of well-being.

5. Life-History Interviews - One year after the completion of the BIG data collection, a sub-set of participants will be asked to share their stories in a life-history interview. This will give substance and meaning to the numeric data that is captured in the Event History Calendar and MDAFI.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Why Study Palestinians?

Often people will ask us "Why do you study Palestinians? Aren't young people affected by political conflict all throughout the world?"

The answer to the second question is undoubtedly YES. Young people from Colombia, Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, and Egypt (just to name a few) have experienced conflict, in their own country, on a regular basis. Their experiences should be documented, and, in fact, the Center hosts yearly conferences to do just that. So what is so unique about Palestinians that the Center would embark on a multi-year project to better understand this group of people? Well Palestinians were selected for this study for three reasons:

  1. Because of their exposure to multiple periods of political conflict (i.e., first intifada, second intifada) and peace (i.e., Oslo) since their early adolescence

  2. Because of their very high level of participation in political resistance as adolescents and young adults during their first intifada (1987-1993)

  3. Because when compared to other populations (i.e., Bosnians), Palestinian young people appear to be functioning more positively.

In general, there are very few long-term follow-up studies and those have typically been either very small in scope and/or of refugee populations. In contrast, the PAL project will assess a large, fully representative sample of former Palestinian youth who have remained in their homeland. We hope that with this project, we can better understand the many ways (both positive and negative) political conflict - exposure to and involvement in resistance activities - affects the lives of young people as they mature into adulthood.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Center Receives $1 million Grant to Study Long-Term Impact of Political Violence on Youth

Brian Barber and the research team at the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Conflict received $1 million grant in November 2009 from the Jacobs Foundation to support a multi-year study of a cohort of Palestinian youth: The Impact of Political Conflict on Youth: Assessing Long-Term Well-Being via an Event History - Resource Model (Barber, PI; McNeely, co-investigator; Spellings, doctoral student). This pioneering study assesses the long-term functioning of youths who endured and participated in substantial political conflict.

The purpose of this blog is to document the evolution of the project and serve as a main dissemination tool for the project's findings.