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HLSC647 Quantitative Research Methods

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HLSC647 Quantitative Research Methods

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Course Code: HLSC647
University: Open Universities Australia

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Country: Australia


Read the contents of this document and recommended readings.
Summarise main points in your diary (1-2 pages is sufficient). Summarising the topic will help you understand it better and your summary will be requested at some stage for your assessment.
If required, post your queries and questions on the course discussion board.
If required, you may also email Dr Mike Steele Michael.

This session will cover the following topics

Introduction to evidence based practice; hierarchy ofevidence
Experimental designs and introduction to ethical considerations
Randomised controlled trials; blinding
Introduction to quantitative sampling methods
Association versus causation


Summary of week 1 materials
The week 1 materials look at past information learnt in relation to research and introduce the topic by providing definition of some of the commonly used terms. Here we are tempting to link the relationship between the work in past research unit and the requirements under this current unit.
To begin we look at an overview of research theory. This is brought out by looking at several past research reports which assist illustrate the concept of research design. A research design provides a guideline for the researcher’s study.
By going through the abstract of the past studies, we have managed to have a grip of the following components of a research (Woo, Leung, & Wong, 2009) (Peters, 2006);
Scientific methods of conducting a research
Defining a research problem, aims, purpose and the research questions
Understanding various types of study designs
Methods of sampling
Ways of collecting data and analysis techniques applied in research
Interpretation and presentation of results
Applying the research to solving practical issues
The materials also gave a guide on how to plan and write a research proposal, research proposal preparation is the primary step prior to undertaking a research study. It gives an overview of the steps that the research process will follow. A research proposal is defined as a written plan that sets out the how, why, where and when of a project.
Summary of week 2 materials
In this week, the materials look at the introduction to epidemiology and basic measurements under quantitative research.
Epidemiology which is also known as the quantitative research is concerned with disease patterns among the human population and the factors that are associated with the patterns. Of importance to the epidemiologists is the disease occurrence based on place, time and persons. Socio demographic and biological features as well as personal habits are some of the personal traits that are importance to the epidemiologist as they tend to determine health. A health determinant is a factor categorised as having either a positive or negative effect on the health of an individual.
Improvement of a population health often results in the occurrence of epidemiological transition, this often arises when a country is transforming from a developing to a developed nation. For instance, as antibiotics are developed, infant mortality reduces which intern extend the life expectancy. This though led to reduction in the fertility rates.
Epidemiology measures quantities and used descriptive terms to define groups of people. Some of the terms include:
Count; is the number of people included in a group comprised of similar features.
Proportion and rates; expression of the count as apportion of the total population.
Prevalence; is the number of affected persons in a population at a given time expressed as apportion of the total population. Its is used to highlight the burden of the situation at a given time.
Disability-adjusted life years: measures an overall burden of the disease (World Health Organization, 2002).
Incidence; this is the quantity of new cases of a disease that arise over a specified period. It indicates the risk of the population to the disease.
Summary of week 3 materials
In this week the materials were concerned with variable relations, quantitative study designs, association measurement as well as introduction to bias and confounding.
Quantitative research is often involved with the study of the relationship between variables. In this scenario we have the independent variable which affect the other referred to as dependent variable. Mostly the variable of interest is usually the dependent variable.
Two major approaches exist to investigate the relationship between variables, observational and experimental study. Under the observational study the research studies the change in nature where two traits are investigated concurrently. Under the experimental study, the researcher modifies one variable and observes the change that arises in the other.
The prevalence study examines the presence of both the dependent variable and the independent variable in a defined population during a period of time. On the other hand, cohort study studies factors that are associated with development of an outcome (Gordis, 2000).
Interpretation of the relative risk; when equal to 1 there is no evidence of increased risk among the exposed, greater than 1 there is increased risk of the exposed population, when less than 1 the risk is negative that is the exposure lead to protection of the population from the disease.
Under the case control study, individuals are identified and studied in comparison to the set of persons without the disease. This study involves the measurement of past exposure and use it to investigate exposures among the selected set. The odds ratio rather than the RR is calculated in this case.
A confounding variable is related to both the variable of interest and the outcome of interest but the relationships are independent.
Summary of week 4 materials
The study of week 4 materials covers a number of concepts. The first is the evidence-based medicine, this has been interpreted as the conscientious, judicious and explicit application of the current evidence in deciding on individual care of patients. This involve the interpretation of the research findings so as to develop a framework for critical thinking.
Furthermore, we have a look at study designs:  the experimental research, this is similar to the cohort study though the involvement of intervention by the investigator is a source of contrast. The use of experiments is suitable for studying cause and effect relationships. There is also a mean used to study medical therapy known as the placebo-controlled studies. It involves the use of placebo treatment.
Moreover, we are introduced to the methods applied in quantitative sampling. Sampling involves selecting subject of study from the general population. The accuracy, reliability and validity of the outcome to the general population greatly relies on the sample selection.
Examples of sampling methods.
Probability, this includes simple random, probability proportion, systematic, stratified and cluster sampling. Under probability sampling all the units within a population have an equal known chance of being part of the sample. On the other hand, non-probability sampling is a case where some elements of the population have no chance of being selected and the selection cannot be determined accurately. Convenient and opportunity sampling are examples (Akobendg, 2005).
Akobendg, A. ( 2005). Evidence Based Child Health 1. Principles of evidence based medicine. Arch Dis Child, 837-840.
Gordis, L. (2000). Cohort Studies and Case-Control and Cross-Sectional Studies, in Epidemiology, Second Edition. . W.B. Saunders Company.
Peters, R. (2006). The relationship of racism, chronic stress, emotions and blood pressure. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 234-240.
Woo, J., Leung, J., & Wong, S. (2009). Development of a simple scoring tool in the primary care setting for prediction of recurrent falls in men and women aged 65 years and over living in the community. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 1038-1048.
World Health Organization. ( 2002). Death and DALY estimates for 2004 by cause for WHO Member States: Persons, all ages. 

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