Methodology Resources-Community

The Center for Family Research studies the reciprocal impact of children, their caregivers, and the broader community context on health and psychological adjustment among African American families living in the rural South. In recent years, we have examined how risk factors such as racial discrimination and poverty affect health outcomes for this population by studying the effects of stress on biological aging, behavioral factors, and substance abuse. This page provides researchers with some of the tools and methodologies used by CFR and as well as some methodology presentations and handouts created over the years.

Methods and Measures

For more than two decades, scientists at the Center for Family Research have sought to employ measures that are psychometrically-robust, developmentally-appropriate, and contextually-sensitive. This page includes information about measures and methodologies developed for CFR-sponsored research studies with a focus on rural, African American populations. The development of these measures included use of focus groups representative of the population being studied. This group provided item-by-item input on the appropriateness of the items as well as other suggestions for procedures.

These two publications provide details about the process of developing and testing the measures:

Six dichotomous variables form a socioeconomic risk index (a score of 1 was assigned to each of the following characteristics), with scores summed to form an index.

  1. Family poverty based on federal guidelines (caregivers provided family annual income and numbers of adults and children in the household; the families’ income-to-needs ratios were calculated based on income and family size; the poverty status was defined as income-to-needs ratios =< 1.00).
  2. Primary caregiver unemployment (caregivers reported employment status as not employed, employed inside the home, employed outside the home, and employed inside and outside of the home)
  3. Receipt of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (caregivers reported whether they received TANF)
  4. Primary caregiver single parenthood (caregivers reported their current relationship status as no relationship with another individual; not married and not sharing same household; not married but sharing same household; married; and married but separated)
  5. Primary caregiver education level less than high school graduation (caregivers reported their own education as grades 1-4; grades 5-8; grades 9-12 (no diploma); high school graduate or GED; some college or trade school (no degree); trade school diploma/certificate or associate of arts degree; bachelor’s degree; some graduate training; master’s degree; and doctorate or professional degree)
  6. Caregiver-reported inadequacy of family income (caregivers reported how adequate they felt their income is in meeting their needs as much less than adequate to meet even our basic needs; not adequate to meet all of our needs; adequate to meet our needs, but no wants; more than adequate to meet our needs and some wants; more than adequate to meet all of our needs and wants)

Studies employing this measure

Brody, G. H., Yu, T., & Beach, S. R. (2015). A differential susceptibility analysis reveals the “who and how” about adolescents’ responses to preventive interventions: Tests of first-and second-generation Gene× Intervention hypotheses. Development and Psychopathology27(1), 37-49.
Zapolski, T. C., Yu, T., Brody, G. H., Banks, D. E., & Barton, A. W. (2020). Why now? Examining antecedents for substance use initiation among African American adolescents. Development and psychopathology32(2), 719-734.

Neighborhood disadvantage was assessed with the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) 5-Year Estimates (2008–2012), using a Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) census tract code. Following previous studies (Sampson et al., 1997), the scale includes six items which are standardized and summed. A higher score indicates a more disadvantaged neighborhood.

  1. median household income (reverse coded),
  2. percent unemployed,
  3. percent of residents below the poverty threshold,
  4. percent who are single-mother families,
  5. percent receiving public assistance,
  6. percentage of residents less than age 18.

Studies employing this measure

Lei, M. K., Beach, S. R., & Simons, R. L. (2018). Biological embedding of neighborhood disadvantage and collective efficacy: influences on chronic illness via accelerated cardiometabolic age. Development and psychopathology30(5), 1797-1815.
Lei, M. K., & Beach, S. R. (2020). Can We Uncouple Neighborhood Disadvantage and Delinquent Behaviors? An Experimental Test of Family Resilience Guided by the Social Disorganization Theory of Delinquent Behaviors. Family Process.