INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH METHODS IN NURSING NRSG 475 Dr. Fahad Aldhafiri OBJECTIVES Understanding the importance of research to the profession of nursing Discussing the application of the scientific method in nursing research Identifying the ethical considerations related to human subject research Understanding the research process in nursing studies Distinguishing between quantitative and qualitative research Discussing the relative merits of experimental and non experimental approaches to research Describing the relationship of theory to hypothesis development Identifying and describing the sampling process in nursing research Evaluating the relative merits of various research designs and data collection methods Identifying common methods of establishing validity and reliability of data collection tools Discussing the applicability of the findings of a research study to nursing practice Identifying researchable problems in nursing practice Critiquing research studies for the logical consistency of each element of the research process COURSE DESCRIPTION The course of Research Methods in Nursing is design to provides nursing students with competencies necessary to design, conduct, read ,evaluate and interpret nursing research studies. This course explores the basic concepts and steps in the scientific research process with special focus on research approaches relevant to nursing. The course also focuses on using research knowledge acquired in the understanding of concepts related to Evidence-Based Nursing Practice, problem solving, and critical thinking related to nursing TOPICS TO BE COVERED Methodological foundations of health research Research planning Research designs Data collection Descriptive statistics Data analysis and inference Evaluation and dissemination of research results SECTION 1 METHODOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF HEALTH RESEARCH Foundations of health research The research process The scientific method is essential for conducting research and evaluation aimed at producing evidence, improving the effectiveness and costeffectiveness of health services. FOUNDATIONS OF HEALTH RESEARCH Introduction Health research is a systematic and principled way of obtaining evidence (data, information) for solving health care problems and investigating health issues. Research is systematic in that researchers follow a sequential process. The general aims of this chapter are to: 1. Examine the relationship between knowledge and methods. 2. 2. Outline what constitutes the scientific method. KNOWLEDGE AND METHODS Two concepts drawn from philosophy are relevant to our discussion: ontology and epistemology. Ontology refers to the question of what exists in the world, what is ‘real’. Different knowledge systems take diverse positions on what constitutes reality. In contrast to the natural sciences, various traditional interpretations hold different views on what constitutes the reality. For example, the notion of life force or qi/chi, a central concept in traditional Chinese medicine, is absent in contemporary Western medicine. Of historical interest, is the classical Greek belief in humors that was once central to Western medicine. The balance of humors was thought to determine mental and physical wellbeing; however humors are no longer seen as ‘real’ in Western medicine. Epistemology is a field of philosophy concerned with the nature, source and legitimacy of knowledge. In the domain of health research we are interested in knowledge as applicable to: • Selecting and implementing practices. • Producing and interpreting evidence. • Constructing and applying theories to practice. Before we begin discussion of scientific knowledge and research it is useful, as a means of contrast, to look at some other epistemological approaches. TRADITION Western health care is one of many approaches; it is erroneous to believe that it is always the best option for preventing, treating and managing diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO 2010) defines traditional medicine as ‘the knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories, beliefs and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and … treatment of physical and mental illness’. REASONING Reasoning is commonly used to arrive at true knowledge. It is assumed that, if the rules of logic are applied correctly, then the conclusions are guaranteed to be valid. As an example, let us look at the following syllogism: 1. All persons suffering from heart disease are males. 2. Person X has heart disease. 3. Therefore, person X is a male. Logic guarantees that the conclusion (3) is true, provided that the syllogism is in a valid form and the premises (1) and (2) are true. Clearly, the limitation of formal (that is, ‘content-independent’) reasoning is that it works in practice only if we have means for establishing the factual truth of the premises. In the above example, conclusion (3) might be empirically false, given that the premise (1) is factually false. The origin of modern science originates from ‘natural’ philosophy. Reasoning and logic are very much a part of science. However, we require reliable evidence to support conclusions based on logic and mathematical operations. THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD Science and the scientific method evolved over a period of thousands of years (Fara 2009). Great civilizations, such as Babylonia, China and India, devised written languages and symbols for numbers, to permanently record observations and speculations about the world. This was an essential step in the development of formal science. Disciplines such as astronomy, mathematics and medicine were further developed by Greek and Roman philosophers and physicians. For example, the Roman physician Galen worked as a surgeon treating injured gladiators and used experimental methods to test hypotheses about physiology and anatomy. Much of the classical knowledge was lost during the dark ages, but an important fraction was preserved and expanded upon by Muslim and Christian scholars (Fara 2009). The beginnings of modern Western science are generally traced to the beginning of the 16th century, a time in which Europe experienced profound social changes and a resurgence of great artists, thinkers and philosophers. The following points represent the essential characteristics of the early scientific world view: • Realism: a position which holds that the world exists independently of our beliefs. For example, the planets are large objects which circle about the sun, regardless of what observations astronomers make about their orbits. • Determinism: the assumption that events in the world occur according to regular laws and identifiable causes. • Empiricism: the conviction that discovery ought to be conducted through observation and the truth of knowledge verified through evidence. • Scepticism: an attitude which fosters questioning the truth of any proposition; even those made by great authorities. All aspects of knowledge, including methods, became open to questioning, critique and revision. OBSERVATIONS, DESCRIPTION MEASUREMENT AND Considering Figure 1.1, let us start with observations. The description of phenomena involving the precise, unbiased recording of observations of aspects of persons, objects and events forms the empirical basis of all branches of science. Observations can be expressed as either verbal descriptions or sets of measurements The perceptions of the investigator must be transformed into descriptive statements and measurements that can be understood and replicated by other investigators. Some research is based on observation made with instruments (such as recording electrodes, microscopes and standardized clinical tests), while other research calls for observation unaided by instruments. Although advances in instrumentation have contributed enormously to scientific knowledge, the use of complex instrumentation is not a necessary feature of scientific observation. Rather, the key attributes of scientific observation are accuracy and replicability by other scientists. When observations are appropriately summarized and are confirmed by others, they form the factual bases of scientific knowledge. GENERALIZATION AND INDUCTION Statements representing observations or measurements are integrated into explanatory systems called hypotheses and theories. The logic underlying scientific generalizations is called induction. Induction involves asserting general propositions (hypotheses, theories) about a class of phenomena on the basis of a limited number of observations of select elements. For example, having observed that penicillin is useful for curing pneumonia in a limited set of patients, we make the generalization ‘the administration of penicillin cures pneumonia (in all patients)’. HYPOTHESES AND LAWS The administration of penicillin cures pneumonia’ is an example of an hypothesis. Scientific hypotheses are statements that specify the expected relationship between two or more sets of variables. In this instance, the first variable relates to the administration of penicillin and the second set of variables relates to beneficial changes in patients with pneumonia. For example, the ‘beneficial changes in the symptoms of patients with pneumonia’ will include a reduction in temperature in degrees centigrade. When hypotheses acquire strong empirical support, they may be called laws. Therefore the statement, ‘the administration of penicillin cures pneumonia’, can be considered a law on the grounds that many patients with pneumonia have been effectively treated. THEORIES Scientific theories are essentially conjectures representing our current state of knowledge about the world. Hypotheses are integrated into more general explanatory systems called theories. A theory will clarify the relationships between diverse classes of observations and hypotheses. For example, a theory to explain why drugs called antibiotics are effective in curing some infectious diseases integrates evidence from diverse sources such as microbiology, pharmacology, cell physiology and clinical medicine. In health care, theories are important for explaining the causes of health and illness and predicting the probable effectiveness of treatment outcomes. For example, the theory of AIDS is based on the assumption that signs and symptoms of the disease are caused by the HIV retrovirus, which is transmitted by bodily fluids (e.g. blood, semen). This theory guides practices such as screening of blood and promoting safe sex to control the pandemic. DEDUCTION A scientific theory will lead to a set of empirically verifiable statements or hypotheses. In addition to being generalizations based on evidence, hypotheses are also deduced logically from the statements and/or models which specify the causal relationships postulated by the theories. For instance, if we hold the theory that the patterns of activity of a set of neurones in the occipital lobe mediate visual sensation in humans, then the hypothesis follows that the activation of these neurones (say, by electrical stimulation) will lead to the report of visual sensations. Such hypotheses have been the bases for subsequent spectacular clinical advances such as artificial vision through cortically implanted electrodes. VERIFICATION AND FALSIFICATION After the evidence has been collected, the investigator decides whether or not the findings are consistent with the predictions of the hypothesis. If the hypothesis is supported by the evidence, then the theory from which the hypothesis was deduced is strengthened or verified. When the data are not consistent with the predictions, the theories from which the hypotheses were deduced are falsified. If a theory can no longer predict or explain evidence in its empirical domain, it becomes less useful and is usually later discarded in favour of new, more powerful theories. Therefore, scientific theories are not held to be absolute truths, but rather as provisional explanations of available evidence. An essential characteristic of a scientific proposition is that it should be ‘falsifiable’. That is, there should be a clear empirical outcome that could, if found, show that the proposition was false. For example, consider the previous statement, ‘the administration of penicillin cures pneumonia’. This statement is clearly falsifiable because there is the possibility that penicillin will not work.