Extraneous Variables

The research proposal is set against a background of increased number military veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan with Post-traumatic stress disorder and a healthcare sector that is not skilled enough to handle this demographic. The study questions are set up to investigate the knowledge, skills, and preparedness of the healthcare professionals in handling military veterans with PTSD. The investigation paves a way to evaluate the impact of lack of proper treatment options to the health of veterans. It also forms the conceptual framework for the recommendations of helping veterans with PTSD. In this case, it raises several questions such as what are the treatment and management options available to help veterans with PTSD. What should be done to ensure veterans with PTSD receive treatment and the necessary measures to alleviate a relapse? Lastly, what are the steps that should be put in place to ensure the healthcare professionals are prepared to respond to the increasing needs of veterans with PTSD?

Usually, under normal circumstances, we would statistically analyze results based on the scores of the dependent variable and the independent variable. Definitely, this would show the relationship between military veterans with PTSD and the ability of inability of the current health sector to manage veterans with PTSD. In other words, we would know if the health sector is ready and skilled enough to manage and treat veterans with PTSD. The findings would then provide an overarching framework to explore the impact of lack of proper treatment options and the recommendations. However, apart from the independent and dependent variables, other variables might influence the outcome of the experiment. Ideally, extraneous variables are variables that the experimenter does not intend to study and have the potential to compromise the internal validity of the research findings (Evans & Rooney, 2011). In this case, the first extraneous variables that the study will not manipulate include the probability of veterans seeking treatment options in urban facilities where there is a high concentration of mental health specialists, instead of the community hospitals where there is a limited number or no specialists. The second extraneous variable is the probability of veterans not visiting community health facilities for fear of stigma and instead choosing to go to other healthcare organizations outside their locality or not getting treatment altogether. The other extraneous variable is the probability of interviewing healthcare professionals who have never attended to military veterans. We cannot ignore the likelihood that maybe on the days the healthcare professional was on duty, no military veteran came to the facility. While we will not manipulate these extraneous variables, they have a potential to affect the performance scores of health care professionals attending to veterans with PTSD. Other extraneous variables may relate to the probability of picking veterans who have never sought treatment in a community health facility based on their socio-economic status. Military veterans with a high socio-economic class are less likely to attend community facilities or public hospitals. Instead, they will most likely seek treatment from public clinics in urban areas or Veteran Hospitals.

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Controlling Extraneous Variables

Essentially, when conducting research, it is critically important to control extraneous variable from turning into confounding variables. While extraneous variables cannot be avoided, researchers should not let them turn into confounding variables. Apparently, when an extraneous variable turns into a confounding variable, it can influence the dependent variable and undermine the internal validity and reliability of a test with the potential of causing a systematic error. More formally defined, research validity is the correctness inferences made from research findings, while reliability refers to the results being valid (Johnson, 2013). The extraneous variable will be controlled by either holding the variable constant or matching the values across the conditions. In this case, the extraneous variable on healthcare professionals will be managed through random sampling. Ideally, as Wood and Kerr (2011) elaborate, random sampling relates to internal validity and relies on the way the participants are assigned to experimental conditions. With random sampling, independent samples will be created such that each participant has an equal chance of being selected for the experimental condition. The study will use quantitative data collection methods that rely on random sampling. However, for reliability, the reach will consider participant and situational characteristics to avoid influencing the dependent or the study findings. Since the intent is to generalize from a larger population, the study will consider the use of probability sampling to select participants and help in comparing the health care providers who encountered military veterans with PTSD and were able or unable to screen and provide care.

The other control method of the extraneous variable will be by use of control groups. The validity and reliability of the experiment rely on the ability to make comparisons between participants in differential experimental conditions to come up with relevant findings (Wood & Kerr, 2011). The use of the control group will rely on the person-in-charge at the Veterans Hospital to identify and recommend one group of participants who may have to attend other health facilities based on their medical history. The participants will be required to indicate whether they receive proper care in the other health facilities. The comparison group will be separate veterans randomly picked who may or may not have attended other health facilities.


Evans, A., & Rooney, B. J. (2011). Methods in psychological research. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage.

Johnson, B. (2013). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Wood, M. J., & Kerr, J. C. (2011). Basic steps in planning nursing research: From question to proposal. Sudbury, Mass: Jones and Bartlett.

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