RESEARCH IN THE CONTEXT OF AN
EDUCATIONAL AND SERVICE PROJECT
Edith Finaly and Mary C. Howell
Data collection is a requisite of contemporary work. In an undertaking like the Kennedy Aging Project, where the stated goals of the work were to teach health professionals and to provide exemplary service, there is also an expectation that data will be accumulated and analyzed. This is both for the purpose of evaluating the work done and also for sharing the experience of the work with others.
Early deliberations of the Interdisciplinary Team (see Chapter 7) determined the shape, scope, and content of the interview schedule that was the foundation of the data-collection process. Very simply, the information that was collected in the course of client intake became data to be analyzed and reported. As we worked with this data we experienced a variety of dilemmas with regard to the use of data for service (and, by demonstration, for education) and the use of data for research.
In pure research, acquiring data is an end in itself, although the long-range effect of the study may also be beneficial to respondents. Our data collection, on the other hand, focused on establishing a helping relationship and eliciting data in order to provide services to clients.
There are differences between the interviewer-respondent relationship and the worker-client relationship. Research interviews are limited in time and the parameters for the data to be obtained are predetermined. Worker-client interviews can, and should, explore all topics relevant to the client's needs, in as long a period of time as is required. The goal of research interviews is to obtain data about and for a particular population. The research interviewer cannot make promises or commitments about help. The goal of service interviews is to