Critical Analysis of a Previous Research study by Bronwen Lichtenstein


This paper provides a critical analysis of a previous research study by Bronwen Lichtenstein. This study, Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein discussed how stigma can be a huge barrier to the treatment of sexually transmitted infection amongst the American population (Lichtenstein, 2003, p 2). The critical analysis evaluated and assessed the research processes, methods used, data used, as well as result of the research study. Lastly, the analysis critically discusses the political and organizational content of the research study. The research of the critical analysis indicates that research study is authentic, authoritative, and justified having been done using appropriate method and data.

Evaluation of research process and findings

This section critically evaluates the research process and findings of the research study by considering the people who carried the research, when and where it was conducted among other areas of consideration. In this case, the research study under critical analysis is entitled “Stigma as a barrier to treatment of sexually transmitted infection in the American deep south: issues of race, gender and poverty.” It was conducted by Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein from the University of Alabama in United States of America. In this research study, Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein was guided by the primary objective of determining how stigma is a major barrier in the treatment of sexually transmitted disease especially in United States of America. In particular, Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein was determined to discover how issues related to gender, poverty, and race comes into play in enhancing stigmatization of sexually transmitted diseases in the America Deep South.

The research was conducted by Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein, who is currently working with the University of Alabama, Institute of Rural Health Research, and Department of Women’s Studies. She has very interesting educational background having earned her bachelor of arts at the Universityof Canterbury in 1991 and a PhD of the same at the sameuniversity in 1996. Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein has a lot of knowledge and experience in HIV and STIstigmatization where she has deep interest. She has written several publications and research studies about HIV stigmatization and foreclosure. Some of her previous publications include The Feminization of Foreclosure and Lessons on Stigma – Teaching about HIV/AIDS.

The research was carried out in 2003 in the American Deep South – the Alabama amongst the people in the health care industry. This population consists of majority of people who have sexually transmitted infections in the entire United States of America.The researcher used six focus group interviews amongst the African-American population in the American deep west – the Alabama. Candidates for the interview included health workers, patients and students with the target population. They were randomly selected to participate in the interview by answering questions during a focus group interview conducted by the researcher.To get effective comparison, the interviewees were evenly divided between small and large city coming from central and west Alabama. This approach was effective in comparing the result from the two locations. The focus group interviews were designed to compare the effects on stigma related factors in both west and central Alabama.

The result of the research study indicated that stigma related to sexually transmitted diseases directly and indirectly affect the willingness of people to accept treatment in public hospitals and clinics. In essence, most infected people in Alabama avoid treatment in public hospital because of stigmatization. In addition, the result of the study linked stigmatization with religious ideation, privacy fears, racial attitudes, as well as stigma transference, which are the major factors contributing to infected people avoiding public clinics and hospitals.The result of the study brought new dimension into the understanding of stigmatization which is crucial for development of healthcare policies targeting comprehensive treatment of people with sexually transmitted diseases (Podsakoff Et Al., 2003, p 89).

Evaluation of research methods used

This section critically evaluates the research methods that were used to conduct this important academic study. It is conducted with the primary aim of determining whether the research methods used were appropriate in meeting the primary aims of the research study. In this research study, the researcher, ProfessorBronwen Lichtenstein, used descriptive survey methodology which is considerably suitable to the primary goals of the study in terms of effective data collection and analysis.

The research method used consisted of focus group interviews to collect primary data from selected respondents from the target populations. He used six focus group interviews which were divided between the small and large cities in central and west Alabama to provide comparative data.The focus group interviews were suitable for this research because it offered in-depth understanding of the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of individuals on stigmatization. Secondly, it provided deeper cultural and social interpretation of the research phenomenon. Lastly, the choice of focus group interview generated novel and unexpected insights into the research phenomenon. This method helped the researcher to reach and investigate parts which other methods could have not (Deakin University, 1999, p 35).

The total number of people who participated in the focus group interviews was divided between the small and large city. From the large city, 19 individuals participated in the focus group interview; they consisted of six staffs, six patients, and nine students. From the small city, 23 people participated in the focus group interview; they consisted of nine staffs, eight patients, and six students. The research used stratified sampling method to selected participant in the focus group interviews. The choice of stratified random sampling method was suitable to the primary goal of the research because it offered greater precision. In addition, it requires smaller sample which is easy to manage. However, this method is disadvantageous because the smaller sample might not accurately represent the entire population.

The researcher did awesome work by ensuring the sampled respondents were effective representative of the entire population in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, marital status as well as employment status. Males and females as well as black and white race in Alabama were equally represented in the sample interviewees. The sample also included both married and unmarried members of the society as well as the employed and unemployed which was a good representation of the entire population. This approach was beneficial because it provided comparative analysis of the stigmatization in terms of race, ethnicity, gender, and age among other factors.

The weakness of this research method is that it relied on the use of small sample which cannot authoritatively represent the entire Alabama population. As a result, it would be inappropriate to use the research finding to make inference about the entire population. The result would be more authoritative if the interviewees were increased from the initial 42 to not less than 200 respondents based on the total population of Alabama and recommended sample size. This will give better representation of the research population thus enhancing the primary goal of the research.

Evaluation of use of data in the research

This section of the critical analysis evaluates the use of data in the research study. First, it is essential to note that the researcher basically used primary data collected through four different focus group interviews. This approach was beneficial because it allowed researchers to collect specific required data from the subjects of interests thus effectively eliminating other unwanted groups or pieces of information. In addition, the use of qualitative data was advantageous because it allowed Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein to collect only pieces of information required for the specific aims and purposes of the research study thus easily avoiding any unnecessary data.In essence, the questions that the researcher asked during the focus group interview were tailored to illicit information or data that would help her fulfill purpose of the research study.

Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein basically used qualitative data in this research study to determine how stigmatization is a barrier to treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. This is a type of descriptive data therefore it was very suitable in describing the research phenomenon. However, as compared to quantitative data, it is harder to analyze and interpret qualitative data correctly. Despite this inherent weaknessofqualitative data, it was suitable for the aims and purposesof the research study because it provide deep analysis of how people think and feel about issues, in this case stigmatization. It is the best data which can be used to find out how people think at an individual level rather than generalizing.

The use of qualitative data was suitable for this research study because it measured elements or variables which could not be quantifiable. In particular, the research was focused on measuring the level ofknowledge, perceptions and practices of stigmatization in the target population which are all not quantifiable. These elements are qualitative in nature cannot be measured and analyzed using quantitative methods. In addition, the use of qualitative data allowed the researcher to gather in-depth understanding of how factors such as race, gender, education, ethnicity, and income or employment directly or indirectly contributed to stigmatization in the area. The qualitative data did not only gather the observed human behavior but also started reasons that made them possible.

The use of qualitative data was also suitable for the study because it provided insightful explanation of how stigmatization causes barrier to treatment of sexually transmitted diseases in west and central Alabama. In addition, it allowed the researcher to expand deeply into the research study by asking investigative questions depending on the response given by the respondent. These questions allowed the researcher to discover more about the respondent’s behavior, understanding, knowledge and perception about the research phenomenon (Barton, 2006, p 129).

Evaluation of results of the research

The result of the study revealed that stigmatization directly and indirect acts as a barrier to the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, which coincides with other findings thus can be justified on that basis. In addition, it revealed that social and cultural factors such as ethnicity, race, economic status and gender also associated with high rates of sexually transmitted diseases in the area. However, the weakness of this research is that it does not explain how these factors correlates to high incidence rates of STI infections. In particular, people in lower social class or economic status are more susceptible to STI infections than people in higher social class and economic status.

The results indicated that stigmatization reduces people’s willingness to accept treatment of their STI infections in public clinics and hospitals. The study revealed four important dimensions of stigmatization; religious ideation, privacy fears, racial attitudes, and stigma transference. According to the study’s results, religious ideation determines the perceptions and attitudes of health workers towards promiscuous patients, which reduces their willingness to visit public clinics for treatment. Male patients are discouraged from seeking treatment in public clinics because of privacy fears. The willingness to be treated is affected by racial attitudes. Lastly, transferability of stigmatization also affects people’s willingness to accept treatment in public clinics and hospitals.

The major problem with result of this study is that the researcher basically focused on giving generalized results which could not applied to the entire population because of differences in dynamics and situations. In addition, the result of the study did not give deeper analysis and comparison with other previously undertaken research studies which could have been beneficial in identifying the existing gaps in the study of stigmatization as a barrier to treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

Analysis of the political and organizational context of the research

This section of the analysis discusses the political as well as organizational context of the researchstudy and how it affected the research process and outcome. Specifically it demonstrates the ends and means of justifying the political and organizational influence on the research study. In addition, it presents the dominant paradigms of the research which is influenced by both the political and organizational context.

The desire to eliminate sexually transmitted infections is one of the most important goals most organizations. Presently, there are many organizations across theworldincludingUnited States of America that are purposefully formed to enhance methodsof elimination of sexually transmitteddiseases. These organizations have keen interests on research that focus on elimination of sexually transmitted disease like the one conducted by Professor Bronwen Lichtenstein.This is driven by the act the rate of sexually transmitted infection is rapidly growing even in developed nations. They are ready to finance such projects and research that focus on elimination of sexually transmitted disease in order to create disease free environment for betterment of humanity.

In a similar, there is high political interest in research and policies that focus on elimination of sexually transmitted diseases. Politician would be interested in using the result of the research study to develop government policies that focus in the elimination of sexually transmitted diseases. They would also want to use the result of the research study to develop educational plans that would create awareness and intervention measures of STIs because it is a major problem affecting the entire society.


The critical analysis of this research indicates that it was conducted in a manner that enhanced and promoted its primary aims and objectives, which is to determine the role of stigmatization as a barrier in the treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. The research methodology and methods that were used perfectly suited the objective of the research. The chosen qualitative methods were effective for easy data collection and insightful analysis thus a guarantee of reliability. The only weakness of this research study is that it did not include ethical consideration which is a major element of any research study.



Barton, K. C. 2006. Research methods in social studies education: contemporary issues and perspectives. Greenwich, Conn, IAP – Information Age Publication.

Deakin University. 1999. Research methodology and critical analysis. Geelong, Vic, Deakin University.

Lichtenstein, B. 2003. Stigma as a barrier to treatment of sexually transmitted infection in the American deep south: issues of race, gender and poverty. Social Science & Medicine57(12), 2435-2445.

Podsakoff, P.M., Mackenzie, S.B., Lee, J.Y. and Podsakoff, N. P. 2003. Common method biases in behavioral research: a critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of applied psychology88(5), p.879.