Understanding Nursing and Healthcare Research
Publication Year: 2015
Student nurses strive to become evidence-based practitioners, and to achieve this they need to understand how research impacts on health and health care. This new book helps readers to do just that, providing a readable, concise guide to the research process for those who are beginning their first degree. It walks students through the research process, covering topics such as how to choose a research question, literature reviewing and analysing findings. Key features of the book are: • A companion website to support lecturers in their teaching and students in their learning. The site offers resources including class discussion questions, quizzes and free SAGE journal articles • Learning outcomes and key points which highlight important information • Definitions of difficult terms and an interactive glossary ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: What is Research?
- Chapter 2: The Research Process at a Glance
- Chapter 3: What are Research Problems, Questions, Hypotheses, Aims and Objectives?
- Chapter 4: Searching and Reviewing the Literature
- Chapter 5: Getting to Grips with Research Designs
- Chapter 6: Understanding Sampling and Sampling Size
- Chapter 7: Ethical and Legal Issues in Research
- Chapter 8: Rigour in Research
- Chapter 9: Data Collection in Research
- Chapter 10: Gaining Insight into Data Analysis
- Chapter 11: How is Research Disseminated and Implemented?
- Chapter 12: Critically Evaluating Research Studies
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© Patricia Cronin, Michael Coughlan and Valerie Smith 2015
First published 2015
Apart from any fair dealing for the purposes of research or private study, or criticism or review, as permitted under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, this publication may be reproduced, stored or transmitted in any form, or by any means, only with the prior permission in writing of the publishers, or in the case of reprographic reproduction, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside those terms should be sent to the publishers.
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ISBN 978-1-4462-4101-1 (pbk)
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List of Figures and Tables[Page ix]Figures
- 1.1Inductive/deductive research cycle 5
- 3.1Brainstorming exercise on the topic of preterm birth 27
- 4.1EBSCOhost search page 48
- 4.2Search using parentheses 49
- 4.3Using Boolean operators 50
- 4.4Use of limiters 51
- 5.1A simple experiment 62
- 5.2An experimental design (with two groups) 64
- 5.3Example of a scattergram 67
- 5.4Case-control vs cohort study 70
- 5.5Action research cycle 81
- 10.1Types of quantitative data 147
- 10.2Pie chart of diagnoses of participants in a study 149
- 10.3Interquartile range 151
- 10.4Standard deviation 152
- 10.5Normal distribution curve 153
- 10.6Correlational relationships 159
- 10.7Codes and themes 162
- 2.1An overview of the validity, reliability and rigour 19
- 3.1Developing problem statements 28
- 3.2Use of PICO in formulating research questions 31
- 3.3Example of non-researchable and researchable questions 32
- 3.4Examples of research hypotheses 35
- 3.5Establishing research aims and objectives 36
- 4.1A selection of electronic databases 43
- 5.1Classification of research designs 57
- 5.2Classification of non-experimental research 66
- 5.3Classifying the strength of a correlation 68
- 5.4Features and methods in correlational research 68[Page x]
- 5.5Examples of theoretical/conceptual frameworks adopted in qualitative descriptive studies 74
- 5.6Features and methods in qualitative descriptive studies 75
- 5.7Features and methods in grounded theory studies 76
- 5.8Features and methods in phenomenological studies 78
- 5.9Features and methods in ethnographic studies 79
- 5.10Features and methods in narrative research studies 81
- 5.11Features and methods in action research studies 83
- 5.12Features and methods in case study research 84
- 6.1Probability and non-probability sampling methods 89
- 6.2Stratified random sample of nursing students 94
- 6.3Simple random sample of nursing students 94
- 8.1Examples of formal quality assessment tools 126
- 9.1Common methods of data collection 129
- 9.2Types and format of questions 131
- 9.3Levels of data 131
- 10.1Analysis by level of data (measurement) 148
- 10.2Frequency distribution table of diagnoses of participants in a study 149
- 10.3Dispersion/measures of variability 151
- 10.4Choosing a statistical test 156
- 10.5Statistical tests for one-sample research designs 156
- 10.6Statistical tests for two-sample research designs, one independent variable and/or two or more conditions 157
- 10.7Statistical tests for three-sample research designs, one independent variable and/or three or more conditions 157
- 10.8Statistical tests for two or more independent variables (iv) 158
- 10.9Statistical tests for correlational research 158
- 11.1Strategies for disseminating research 171
- 11.2Journal Impact Factors 173
- 12.1Guidelines for critically evaluating research study 179
- 12.2Factors influencing relevance 179
- 12.3Steps in the research process 180
About the Authors
About the Companion Website[Page xii]
Visit the companion website at https://study.sagepub.com/cronin to find a range of teaching and learning material for lecturers and students, including the following.For Lecturers
Seminar plans which relate to key issues in nursing research. These can be downloaded for use in your classes or adapted to meet your own needs. The activities are based on group work or individual study.
PowerPoint slides to use in your lectures or seminars.[Page xiii]For Students
Free online readings to use as examples of research. These are indicated by the icon in the text.
Multiple choice questions to test your knowledge.
Flashcard glossary of key terms in nursing and healthcare research to help you revise.
Web links related to each chapter of the book.
Critical appraisal tool for use in assessments.[Page xiv]
Accessible population (Study population)
This is a portion of the target population that a researcher can easily access. The accessible population needs to be representative of the target population if inferences to the target population are to be made.
Action research incorporates working with participants in a specific situation to problem solve an issue that is identified as needing development/improvement and identification and enactment of an intervention (change) to achieved the desired outcome.
A template of possible codes is created before the formal analysis process begins.
Respect for a person's right to self-determination and freedom of choice.
The comparison of two variables to determine if there is a relationship between them.
Data such as nominal and ordinal level that can be categorised into distinct groups but have no inherent numerical value.
Case study is the study of single or multiple cases (unit, group or entity) in its own right. The cases have clear boundaries and are studied in context because they always occur in a physical and social setting.
Non-experimental designs that are closest to an experiment because the research question is causal but it is not possible to manipulate the independent variable.
A relationship whereby a change in one variable causes a change in another variable.
This is a study where data is gathered from the entire target population.
The single value that represents the distribution of the data. There are three measures of central tendency namely the mode, the median and the mean.
A state of uncertainty about the benefits of treatments being evaluated in a randomised clinical trial.
Forcing or placing undue pressure or influence on a person.
A study in which an external funding body, such as a professional organisation, a government department or a private funding source, has requested that research on a particular topic be done.
Having the ability or necessary skills to perform an action.
This is a review of the literature to determine the attributes and characteristics of a concept.
Data that have a numerical value such as interval and ratio level and can be measured along a continuum.
Correlation co-efficient (r)
Is a number between −1.0 (perfect negative correlation) and 1.0 (perfect positive correlation) that represents the strength of the relationship between two or more variables. 0.0 indicates no relationship. A positive correlation means the variables move in the same direction while a negative correlation means they move in opposite directions.
Non-experimental designs that can measure or test the relationship between two or more variables.
A calculation of the existence and/or strength of a relationship between two variables.
Accuracy and truth in research findings.
An appraisal of the quality of a research study. Unlike a critique in that only significant strengths / limitations of the study are presented.
Paradigms that are concerned with social conditions and a critique of the known structure of society. Advocacy and participatory world views draw on critical theory and their focus is on enablement, empowerment and emancipation.
A critical examination of a research study that identifies the strengths and limitations of that study. It is often undertaken as an academic exercise.
This is said to be achieved when no new themes are emerging from the data and participants’ descriptions reflect previous data gathered. It is an indicator that data collection can cease.
Commonly referred to as ‘general to specific’. In research, testing of an existing theory takes place and is then either accepted, rejected or modified. Associated with theory testing research.
An ethical theory which focuses on duty and obligation in research.
[Page 187]Descriptive/observational designs
Non-experimental designs that broadly focus on observing or describing a phenomenon to provide a precise account of its existence or nature, its prevalence and/or distribution.
Analysis that is undertaken to describe the characteristics of those involved in a study. The most common features that involve analysis of one variable at a time (univariate analysis) are frequency/distribution, central tendency and dispersion/measures of variability.
Dispersion/measures of variability
Measures of dispersion offer insight into the spread (dispersion) of scores in a set of data.
The spreading, circulation or dispersal of something, especially information, widely.
Any form of records related to the lives of individuals, groups, communities or societies.
Concerned with how many times a value appears in the data. These can be presented as actual numbers (n), percentages or category (where there are large numbers).
The branch of philosophy that studies the history of knowledge.
The opposite of rationalism, empiricism is located in the belief that our knowledge is derived from our experiences of the world. The vehicles for our experiences are our senses.
A branch of moral philosophy concerned with that which is right or wrong, good or bad, fair or unfair.
Ethnography is the study of the culture and social structure of groups and has its roots in anthropology.
These are conditions whose presence or absence, depending on the study, will exclude individuals from the target population.
Concerned with conducting experiments and include three elements: intervention, control and randomisation.
A person, organisation, group or platform that allows or denies people access to participating in a research study.
The ability to extend or apply a study's findings to individuals outside of the study sample in the wider, general community.
In grounded theory methodology a systematic set of procedures are used to develop theory that is ‘grounded’ in the data.
[Page 188]Guttman Scale
A cumulative scale where respondents tick statements with which they agree. It is hierarchical, that is, when a person ticks a statement with which they agree it is likely that they will also agree with statements lower down in the hierarchy.
Diversity or differences in some element, for example practices or populations.
The opposite of heterogeneity and refers to similarity in elements.
A statement that expresses a relationship between two or more variables that will be examined in a study. It may be considered a prediction of the possible results of a study.
These are distinct conditions that will identify those who will be included in the target population.
Commonly referred to as ‘specific to general’. In research, it is where enough observations and measurements of a phenomenon are made until a confident generalisation can be made. Associated with theory generating research.
Coding directly from the data in analysis of narrative (words).
This is an all-encompassing review of the literature (experimental, non-experimental, theoretical and conceptual) whose aim is to offer an in-depth understanding of a phenomenon.
Analysis that attempts to establish if there is a relationship between variables; making inferences (predictions) about the wider population from which the sample was drawn and assessing the probability that the outcomes of the study are dependable and did not happen by chance.
Paradigms whose central belief is that reality is constructed through the meanings human beings develop as a result of their experiences and their interactions with others in a social world.
A formal dialogue between two or more people for the purpose of eliciting information about a phenomenon of interest. Can be undertaken in person, on the telephone or through electronic media.
Journal impact factor
A measure that reflects the frequency with which a journal's articles are cited in the scientific literature. It is often used as a proxy measure for the relative importance of a journal within its field.
Fairness and equity.
Levels of data
Refers to the type of numerical data collected in a research study. There are four main types, that is, nominal, ordinal, interval and ratio.
[Page 189]Level of significance
This refers to the degree to which a finding probably occurred by chance. This is usually set at less than or equal to 0.05 per cent; meaning that chance will only play a role in this finding at worst five times in every 100.
The analysis of word meanings and relations between them.
A scale that measures level of agreement with a series of pre-defined statements.
A series of questions that measures or tests variables related to a phenomenon.
A statistical pooling of results from all of the individual studies reporting on an identified outcome in order to provide an overall single result for that outcome.
Pertaining to a body of strict practices and procedures or a set of working methods used by those engaging in a process of inquiry.
Mixed method studies that combine or blend methods that are normally associated with different paradigms in one study.
The comparison of more than two variables to see if there is a relationship between them.
Also known as a traditional literature review. It should be undertaken in a systematic manner, with clear review strategies and searches that are systematic in nature.
Narrative research refers to spoken or written text that gives an account of something (event(s) and/or action(s)) that are connected.
All studies that are not experimental or quasi-experimental.
Avoidance of harm.
This is a sample that is probably not representative of the target population. Convenience and purposive samples are examples.
A potentially inaccurate presumption that can be made by not accounting for the non-responders in a survey.
Demonstrates the spread of the scores in a data set. Data that are normally distributed produce a ‘bell’ shape when scores are plotted on a graph. Also known as a ‘Gaussian’ curve. In a bell curve most data are concentrated around the centre with the frequency of scores falling off at either side.
[Page 190]Null hypothesis (Statistical hypothesis)
This is a testable statement asserting that there is no relationship between two or more variables. By statistically rejecting the null-hypothesis the researcher accepts the hypothesis as true.
Where a researcher directly observes phenomena in the natural setting or context.
Definitions vary but all refer to a ‘pattern’, ‘example’ or ‘exemplar’. Most quoted definition is that of Kuhn (1970) who describes a paradigm as the underlying assumptions and intellectual structures that direct research and development in a given field.
Knowledge by ‘acquaintance’. Associated with having experience of something.
A phenomenon is an aspect of reality that can be experienced or sensed. Phenomena when labelled are known as concepts.
Phenomenology is a philosophy rather than a scientific method that underpins a variety of methods for studying and understanding individuals’ ‘lived experiences’.
A dummy treatment, for example, a sugar pill.
May be defined as all the components that are deemed to have one or more common characteristics and therefore constitute a group.
Paradigms that underpin the scientific method with prediction, generalisation, measurement, observables and researcher objectivity as key features.
A statistical test to identify the sample size required to prevent a Type II sampling error.
The likelihood that the results were not obtained by chance alone if the null hypothesis is true. Assuming that the null hypothesis is true the p value tells researchers how rarely they would observe a difference as large (or larger) than the one they did.
This is a sample that is probably representative of the target population. Simple random and stratified random samples are examples.
Knowledge ‘how’. Associated with the practical knowledge of how to do something.
Knowledge ‘that’. Associated with theories, facts, laws.
Prospective correlation study
A study that recruits participants and follows them forward in time to determine any relationships between the variables under examination in the study.
[Page 191]Qualitative descriptive/Exploratory design
Research methodology whose purpose is to describe/explore a phenomenon/problem/issue. Can encompass a broad range of questions relating to people's experiences, knowledge, attitudes, feelings, perceptions and/or views.
Similar to an experiment in that the manipulation of an intervention is always present but the criteria of control and randomisation may be missing.
A document that contains a series of questions designed to obtain information about a phenomenon of interest. Can incorporate tests or scales.
Randomised controlled trial
A study, in which participants are allocated to two, or more, groups by random (i.e. by chance). The participants in each group receive a different treatment.
Located in the belief that propositional knowledge comes to us through the use of reason.
Consistency in measurement instruments and dependable study results.
This is the degree to which a sample reflects the characteristics of the population from which it was drawn; thus the term representative sample.
This is a clearly defined question that a researcher intends to seek an answer to, in the course of a research study.
Extreme thoroughness and accuracy in research achieved through strict methods, processes or procedures.
A selection of individuals or items used to illustrate the possible responses or behaviours of the population.
All of the individuals who are part of the total population.
Inaccuracy in sampling that leads to an over representation of one or more subgroups within the sample.
A scoping review also known as a scoping project/scoping study is a review undertaken to identify the scope or range of literature that is available on a particular topic or broad research question.
Data related to private issues or issues which people find embarrassing, threatening or emotionally difficult to discuss.
The level at which the researcher is prepared to accept or reject the null hypothesis. It is commonly set at 1/20 or 0.05 and expressed as a probability value, for example, p ≤0.05. In certain situations a smaller p value may be set, for instance, p ≤0.01.
[Page 192]Standard deviation
A measure that calculates the dispersion of the scores in a dataset in relation to the mean.
Surveys are a widely used data collection method in the application of non-experimental research that gathers numerical data.
A method of enquiry that brings together all of the studies on a particular topic in one place to answer a specific review question.
Target population (Theoretical population)
All individuals or units that are deemed by the researcher to have one or more common characteristics and from whom the sample will be drawn.
Theory provides knowledge about the world in which we live through research. There are multiple, conflicting definitions of theory but there are some common characteristics:
- Theory is concerned with some aspect of the world.
- Speculates on how reality might be or ought to be.
- Theories are never certain and always subject to change.
- Theories are comprised of phenomena (concepts).
- Theories are comprised of propositions that identify the nature of the relationship between concepts.
Theory generating research
Research that generates theories usually inductively.
The discrepancy between theoretical/scientific knowledge and how care is given in clinical practice.
Theory testing/validating research
Research that tests/validates theories usually deductively.
Trust in the findings of a study and knowing them to be reliable and true.
Type II sampling error
Occurs when, as a result of a sample size that is too small, there is a failure to reject the null hypothesis and demonstrate significance in a statistical test.
The analysis of one variable for the purpose of describing it.
An ethical theory that supports research where the greatest benefit for the greatest number of people is central.
Accuracy, truth and soundness in study design and conduct.
An ethical theory that is concerned with how a researcher behaves and the quality of his/her character in making decisions and judgments.
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