Human Subjects   Case Study
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High School Drug Prevention Program

A researcher wants to conduct a research project studying the effect of a drug prevention education program for high school students.

The researcher has designed the curriculum and evaluation materials (pre-test and post-test questionnaires, and focus group discussion). As well as collecting demographic data, the evaluation will include questions about students’ personal drug use, attitudes toward drug use, knowledge of effects of drugs and related health issues, and the effectiveness of the program. High school teachers will deliver the curriculum and administer the questionnaires, and undergraduates will conduct the focus groups.

A high school principal agreed to let the researcher pilot the program in his school, and sent a letter to parents informing them students would be required to participate in the project unless a parent objected. If students attended the class, completed the pre- and post-test questionnaires, and participated in the focus groups if invited, they would receive a passing grade; if they failed to complete any component, they would receive a failing grade.

The researcher planned to give students instructions on how to develop a unique code for their questionnaires (to match up pre- and post-test responses) so they could not be identified. The focus group discussions would be audiotaped and transcribed for analysis.