Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Editor's Comment

Academic journal article The Journal of Rehabilitation

Editor's Comment

Article excerpt

Rehabilitation research is firmly grounded in the scientific method and has been primarily empirical in nature. The scientific method has been described as consisting of the following five steps: (1) problem identification, (2) hypothesis formulation, (3) designing and conducting research, (4) hypothesis testing, and (5) interpretation (Christensen, 1988). Through the implementation of these five steps behavioral scientists attempt to describe, predict, and understand human behavior. When the scientific method is applied to rehabilitation the primary goal becomes to describe, predict, and understand how the construct of disability impacts and interacts with human behavior. When attempting to understand the impact of disability on human behavior the issue of causation becomes an important and complex issue. According to the scientific method four primary types of causation have been identified (Bolton & Parker, 1998; Rychlak, 1977). Material causes reflect the basic nature for the material in question. Efficient causes referrer to the energy of and resources behind events. Formal causes refer to the mental strategies that influence behavior in human encounters. Final causes relate to the initial motivations or influences that result in a person taking a particular course of action. One of the major problems associated with counseling and rehabilitation research is that very little research has been directed at uncovering final causes; instead, most research has been directed at identifying efficient causes of human behavior (Bolton & Parker, 1998; Howard, 1985).

A second major problem with rehabilitation research is that has been historically influenced by the medical and psychological model. According to the medical and psychological model, research tends to focus on the individual as the primary agent of behavior, affect, and cognition. Even with the significant move to adopt and embrace a more person x environment model, the emphasis still tends to focus on the individual or environmental factors very close to the individual. For example, it would not be unusual to see a study that examines the impact of a specific piece of assistive technology on an individual's ability to perform a certain task. If environmental factors were analyzed in the study they would most likely be directly related to the individual (i. …

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