Brian Flaherty asks whether the questions researchers pose on questionnaires work for subgroups of a population. While his work focuses on substance use (i.e. tobacco, cocaine, etc.), his methodological applications and statistical models could apply to any measurement domain. Imagine as a public health researcher that you have a standard set of questions you use to categorize an individual’s nicotine dependence. When you look at your data, you want to understand whether subgroups within your sample use substances differently or if certain subgroups (by gender, ethnicity, age, or other quality) are responding differently to your questions. Brian uses data from surveys such as the National Household Survey on Drug Use and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in his research.
Now in the Psychology Department, Brian received his doctoral degree from the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. HDFS is an interdisciplinary department focusing on the study of human development over the lifespan in context. Brian has continued to reach out to other disciplines in his research, partnering with faculty in public health, epidemiology, social work, and even psychiatry and genetics.