How questionnaires shape answers (recording available)

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Health Research Seminars

Who this event is for

  • Academic community


MR119 (seminar) MR136 (workshop), Marston Road, Headington Campus, Marston Road site



Watch the seminar recording here »


Dr Femke Truijens (Ghent University) has been exploring validity issues of psychological methodology and empirical data in psychotherapy research. The seminar will be relevant to anybody using questionnaires in research or clinical practice and to those interested in validity in research in general. 

Seminar (12 - 1pm): How questionnaires shape answers. On validity and performativity of ‘the data’ in psychotherapeutic research

In psychotherapy research, data is collected using self-report questionnaires, to gain evidence on treatment efficacy. In this talk, I question whether ‘the data’ itself is valid to serve as input for such evidence. Based on a qualitative case comparison study, I discuss how questionnaire administration can become performative towards the symptoms under study. That is, actual patients participating in our randomized controlled psychotherapy study (The Ghent Psychotherapy Study, Meganck et al., 2017) reported how questionnaires changed their experienced complaints, albeit in opposing ways. I discuss why this performativity poses a vital threat to the validity of data that is used as ‘evidence’ of treatment efficacy, and I argue for the need to open up our validity terminology to capture the ‘validity of data’ at all.

Workshop (1 - 2.30pm): How valid is our understanding of validity? Discussion on the practical use and the limits of validity terminology in psychotherapy research. [Please confirm your attendance]

Following the talk arguing that the dominant way of understanding validity in psychology may be insufficient to capture the broad range of validity issues that psychotherapy researchers encounter in research practice, the audience is invited to verbalize and discuss day-to-day experiences of validity issues in their research and/or clinical practice. Psychology scholars, researchers, clinicians and others using questionnaires are invited to join the discussion, to derive multiple perspectives on the usefulness and the limits of current validity terminology to derive sound and useful evidence in psychotherapy research. Given the goal-orientation of medical and psychotherapy research and the increasing influence of scientific evidence on the organization of clinical practice, it is vital to discuss how and where validity issues are encountered and how these can be evaluated by the current understanding of validity terminology. Topics of discussion will include:

  • Where do working medical and psychotherapy researchers encounter validity issues in their work?
  • How could validity terminology be broadened to capture research practice sufficiently, without losing the rigor of terms?
  • What does ‘valid evidence’ and ‘valid research’ mean to clinicians in their daily work?
  • How could an insufficient consideration of validity affect daily clinical practice?
  • What aspects would be suggested by clinicians to increase ‘valid’ research and valid evidence that is useful towards clinical practice?

View directions to Marston road site.