Marjorie A. Pett
Not all research is focused on hypothesis testing. Sometimes researchers are interested in identifying the structure of a particular phenomenon. For example, suppose a team of researchers were interested in developing a tool that would adequately measure and reflect the concerns of women considering undergoing genetic testing for familial breast cancer. A literature review indicated to these researchers that the structure of this construct called concern had been identified and described for other populations (e.g., adult caregivers of cancer patients) but needed to be redefined for their population of interest: women at risk for familial breast cancer. The methods of factor analysis can be used in developing such an instrument. Factor analysis is not a single statistical method. Rather, it involves a complex array of statistical procedures that provide a way to identify interrelationships among a large set of observed variables. Much subjectivity and artistry are involved in this technique. ...