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Shifting Methods When Disaster Strikes: The Conversion of a Cross-National Comparative Approach to a Longitudinal Cohort Study of Vietnamese Americans

By: & Published: 2017 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases in Health
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In 2003, researcher Mark VanLandingham embarked on a study to determine whether migration had an impact on health. Using three different Vietnamese populations—Vietnamese immigrants to New Orleans, Vietnamese immigrants who had returned to Vietnam, and Vietnamese who had never left Vietnam-the cross-sectional study sought to compare the long-term impact of international immigration on Vietnamese physical and mental health as well as acculturation and adaptation in the United States. In the middle of data collection, Hurricane Katrina struck the U.S. Gulf Coast and VanLandingham quickly shifted course. What began as a cross-sectional study of migration and health evolved into a longitudinal cohort study of one community’s disaster recovery experience after Katrina. Due to timing and circumstances, the researcher seized upon an opportunity, despite having to completely change his methodologies. In this case study, the change to a new study design was successful due to an open-minded outlook, a committed and flexible team, strong relationships with the community, and mutually beneficial outcomes for both researcher and target population.

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