Is anyone out there still thinking...SO WHAT?!! That's fantastic! You're thinking, and that's exciting. It this is all that is ever done with research, then you are right, SO WHAT!
Finding correlations like the ones in this study are only good if they are put to use.
#1 This study adds to the evidence that home chaos is a useful and important construct of family function. For just one example of putting this data to use consider the following scenario.
An elementary grade boy is having behavior problems. At home and school he is oppositional and aggressive. Based on our data, it would be wise to assess some dimensions of his home life. Is is home chaotic? How well do family members communicate with each other? Instead of just trying to fix his behavior, maybe we should look into his home environment.
#2 This study adds to the evidence that the CHAOS is a useful tool for assessing this dimension of family function. The CHAOS showed that it is a valid tool. It overlapped and captured family dimensions such as coherence, routines, and communication, but also stood on its own as a measure of confusion, clutter, and noise. This may be the first time (that I could find in the literature) that the entire scale was used with a 4-pt Likert. So now we know we can use it like this.
Going back to the above scenario: Suppose the family of this boy is referred to your clinic. You've never met this family before, and have NO idea how big or small their problems are. In 15 minutes you could have a quick portrait of their routines, communication, coherence, and chaos. I would also recommend from my research that you give the boy measures adapted for his age, and ask his opinion too.
This idea of a "snapshot" if you will, of family life is a foundational principle of my 2nd favorite (after psychology) topic, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). This foundational principle is called Baseline Assessment, and a true behavior analyst would never attempt an intervention without getting a baseline. Direct observation is often done to gather baseline data, but in some cases this is too costly and time consuming. Questionnaires aren't perfect but they're fast, they're cheap, and they may be the perfect place to start.
Suppose after gathering baseline data, using the same method and procedures that I used, you found out that this boy's family has communication problems. Just like in my research data, a strong correlation appeared between CHAOS and a communication measure. We could work with the family on communication skills. At some point during intervention we could reassess, and at the completion of intervention, do a final assessment. The importance of using focused intervention, on-going, and post-intervention assessment is fundamental in behavior analysis, and a good idea for any psychologist interested in evidence-based practice.
Evidence-based practice is the buzz word in health care today, because insurance companies don't wish to pay for interventions that don't work. This is good news for families too. Designing measures and interventions that really help families is good for everyone.
Hopefully, I've interested at least a few people in looking into the construct of home chaos even further and helping out by doing more research. None of the research I could find came even close to figuring out cause & effect relationships. Jaffee and colleagues (2012) found that the relationship among home chaos, children's development, and adult functioning is a vicious cycle.
FUTURE RESEARCH IDEAS:
#1 Design studies that reveal cause-effect relationships. Look into animal models too.
#2 Design even better measures, including measures for all age groups.
#3 Design interventions that help families get free of home chaos.
#4 Discover if chaos is handed down from generation to generation. Are organizational skills modeled, innate?
#5 Are there any instances of children and/or adults who do just fine in chaotic environments? If so, why?
#6 How much chaos is too much? How many different kinds of chaos can we identify?
These are just a few questions I thought of, in just a few minutes of brainstorming, that I didn't find answers for in my initial investigation. Can YOU think of some?