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Developing a Screening Instrument

Defining a Concept and Choosing an Indicator
  • Mavis Maclean
  • Hazel Genn
Chapter
Part of the Oxford Socio-Legal Studies book series

Abstract

Having rejected alternative sources of data for our survey of compensation and support and accepted that empirical work must be undertaken, we began to confront the problems of definition. What precisely were the misfortunes we were to screen for? The project set out to examine the social and economic consequences of illness and injury, i.e. we had an area of interest, not a quantifiable variable. The reason for our interest in the topic added to our difficulties. We were concerned that the law of tort in relation to compensation for personal injury was covering only a subsection of the population which might be suffering the effects of illness and injury. We were working outwards from an over-strictly defined subgroup towards an unknown quantity — the total ‘victim’ population. However, in one sense the entire general population are victims of the social and economic consequences of illness and injury in that no one enjoys perfect health all of the time. What sort of cut-off point on the continuum of illness and injury were we to adopt? To develop a definition of a population whose very nature we wished to investigate led us into long, irreconcilable discussions about the nature of the distinction between our group of victims and the total population. Were we to be concerned with a group who differ from the norm of health and illness either in relation to their peer group (which would involve accepting, for example, limited mobility as ‘normal’ for the over-70s) or in relation to the ideal type, i.e. a young fit adult?

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Copyright information

© Social Science Research Council 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mavis Maclean
  • Hazel Genn

There are no affiliations available

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