Survey methods and aging research in an Arab sociocultural context--a case study from Beirut, Lebanon

Correspondence should be addressed to Sawsan Abdulrahim, Health Promotion and Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, American University of Beirut, PO Box 11-0236, Riad El Solh 1107 2020, Beirut, Lebanon. E-mail: .
The Journals of Gerontology Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences (Impact Factor: 3.21). 10/2012; 67(6):775-82. DOI: 10.1093/geronb/gbs083
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Objectives:
In Arab countries, the proportion of older adults is rapidly increasing, highlighting the need to conduct research on factors that influence aging. We describe the context-specific challenges faced and the solutions negotiated during the conduct of a survey study on family relations and aging in Greater Beirut, Lebanon.

Drawing on the experience of a recently completed survey study, we reflect on the context-specific challenges faced and the solutions negotiated during the phases of questionnaire construction, interviewer training, sampling, and participant recruitment as a means to contribute to the growing area of cross-cultural survey research.

The social context of family relations influenced the nature of questions that can be included to obtain valid information. The unavailability of demographic data and the presence of cultural norms that promote deference to older adults also presented methodological challenges to the sampling and recruitment of older adults.

We provided illustrative examples on the importance of learning about a country's social and cultural contexts, and the necessity of exercising flexibility in decision making to ensure the collection of valid data and the successful completion of the study. Lessons learned inform elements of the research process in an Arab country, as well as bring to light unusual, yet generalizable, circumstances that will inform experiences in other cultural settings.

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