When doing a single subject design, what would be the problem (dependent variable) in the following scenario?
Dora has recently been experiencing moments of extreme sadness. She reports she starts crying and cannot stop. She has had little energy to keep up with the demands of raising her daughters and performing her job as caregiver. Her 90 year old mother who lives in Mexico has fallen ill after suffering a terrible fall. Dora is torn about going to see her mother since she is afraid she will not be able to come back to San Antonio where she has made a life for her family. Her siblings are putting pressure on her to come home before something happens to their mother. Dora has been attending the support group for women living with HIV at Mujeres for the last five years. The social worker who facilitates the group has noted a definite change in her mood. Dora comes to the weekly sessions and sits quietly in the group and oftentimes breaks down in tears. She recently went to her regular check-up and discovered that her T-cell count was only 100 and that her viral load was extremely elevated. Lilia contacts the social worker who she and her family have established a trusting relationship with and expresses her concerns about her Mom’s behavior. She says she is afraid that her mother is depressed and it is affecting her ability to do her job. She has been stepping up to assist with the caregiving, but she is not always available due to her school and work demands. She knows her mother would like to go back to Mexico, but if they go back they will lose so much that they have established as a way of living. Dora is afraid to reveal her concerns to the caregiver’s family as she fears she will lose her job, which has kept her in a comfortable living style and able to provide for her family for the last five years. The social worker feels that Dora may need to be on anti-depressants and needs to talk to her about setting an appointment with the psychiatrist at the local AIDS clinic. She is aware that Dora takes a long time to form a trusting relationship. Agency (Women United Against AIDS) Mission Statement: To provide bilingual and bicultural prevention/education/support services to the Latino community of San Antonio by utilizing culturally and linguistically appropriate familia approach.
A single subject research design is a study that revolves around a single subject or a single group. The form of the study is based on learning and evaluating behavioral changes in the individual or the single group when exposed to specific conditions. In such studies, experiments are conducted and the individual subject is also considered the control of the experiment with an aim of coming up with solutions that would adequately result in successful resolution of the problem. In that case the subject’s behavior is first studied in its natural state without any intervention to establish the baseline condition or a point of reference. Later, intervention or treatment is introduced while the subject’s condition is still under study.
In the case of Dora, her behavior, which according to the single subject design is also considered the dependent variable, shows the subject’s degeneration into a depressed state. This is confirmed by suffering moments of sadness, endless crying and lack of energy towards her responsibilities as a parent. Therefore, in the single subject design, the dependent variable is the behavior consistent with depression that Dora is experiencing and manifesting.