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Role of Descriptive Statistics in Healthcare Research Essay

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Resources for Research in Healthcare

The following are some of the resources used by me for furthering my knowledge in the research on healthcare-related areas:

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Book: “Research in Healthcare: Concepts, Designs and Methods” (2000) written by Julius Sim and Chris Wright, published Nelson Thornes UK. This book provides a user-friendly guide to research methods, which helps in researching healthcare topics. This book contains three case studies in the experimental, survey, and ethnographic methodologies, which illustrate research design, collection, and analysis of data.
Book: “Research Methods in Health Promotion” (2006) authored by Richard A Crosby, Ralph J Diclemente, Lawrence W Green, Laura Francisca Salazar published by John Wiley and Sons. This book provides basic knowledge and skills regarding the design, implementation, and analysis of data. The book deals with the interpretation of research in the field of health promotion.
Book: “Resources for Nursing Research” (2004) written by Cynthia G L Clamp, Stephen Gough, and Lucy Land. Sage Publications. This book provides a comprehensive bibliography of sources on nursing research. This book also has references for books, journal papers, and internet sources.
Article: “The Kappa Statistic in Reliability Studies: Use, Interpretation, and Sample Size Requirements by Julius Sim and Chris Wright in Journal Physical Therapy Volume 85 No 3 March 2005 pp 257 – 268. This article deals with the reliability of clinicians’ ratings in the diagnosis and interpretation of examination findings.
Article: “Special Healthcare Needs among Children in the Child Welfare System” by Heather Ringeisen, Cecilia Casanueva, Mathew Urato, and Theodore Cross-published in Pediatrics journal Volume 122 No 1 in July 2008 pp 232 – 241. This article using descriptive statistical methods determines the special care need among children.
Use of Descriptive Statistics

Chapter 12 of the book “Research in Healthcare: Concepts, Designs and Methods” by Julius Sim and Chris Wright deals with presenting data from descriptive and explanatory studies. The chapter among other things explores the role of descriptive statistics in healthcare research. The chapter contains a detailed discussion on the levels of measurement associated with numerical data and the chapter presents appropriate summaries for data at each level of measurement. The presentation of summaries of quantitative data is also dealt with by the chapter (Sim & Wright, 2000).

According to the authors, descriptive statistics have two fundamental objectives. The first one is to organize and summarize numerical data to present the salient features of the data clearly and succinctly. Tables, diagrams, charts, and graphs are some of the tools, which can be used to present the data concisely. Such a presentation would help the presentation of the analysis of some basic descriptive research questions, which are straightforward. The second objective of descriptive statistics is to enable the readers to make detailed statistical analyses, which are connected with complex research questions. In this case, the diagrammatic presentation would facilitate a deeper insight into the structure of the data or into the assumptions, which are necessary to carry out any particular analysis.

The chapter describes the characteristics of discreet and continuous variables, counts and percentages, pie charts and bar charts, frequency distributions, mean, range, median, percentiles, and standard deviation. As an example, the chapter presents the following table to illustrate the use of percentages.

Age (Years) Number of Patients % of Patients
18-22 4 3.1
23-27 6 4.6
28-32 18 13.8
33-37 19 14.6
38-42 19 14.6
43-47 19 14.6
48-52 16 12.3
53-57 12 9.2
58-62 12 9.2
63-67 3 3.8

The above table shows the distribution of ages of patients who participated in the low back pain study (n=130).


Sim, J., & Wright, C. (2000). Research in Health Care: Concepts, Designs, and Methods. Chettenham: Nelson Thornes.

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