Random Samples vs. Clinical Samples

Clinical samples often have the disadvantages of oversampling care-recipients who are relatively more impaired and caregivers who are seeking services. However, it is often necessary to use such clinical samples to recruit caregivers of well-characterized care-recipients with specific conditions (e.g. Alzheimer’s) and to add specific instruments and questions to a project. One should be cautious when generalizing from findings based on caregiver samples recruited from clinics to the experience of those caregivers living in the community who may not utilize services that are the source of the sample.

With population-based studies, there is often much less detail available about the circumstances of caregiving (e.g. the diseases and disabilities of the care-recipient, how much and what kind of care is provided, and the availability of social support) but the samples may be more representative.