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Analytic epidemiological studies

Studies concerned with testing hypotheses to determine if specific exposures are related to the presence or absence of specific diseases.



1. Elements built into a design to reduce or eliminate interpretations of the cause of the results. These elements include the use of randomization, manipulation of experimental conditions, and use of comparison groups.
2. The essence of an experimental design.


Control group

The group that does not receive the experimental treatment in an experiment or intervention.


Descriptive study

A study designed to describe the meaning of existing phenomena.


Descriptive correlational study

A study used to describe and explain the nature and magnitude of existing relationships.


Descriptive epidemiological studies

Studies concerned with the distribution and patterns of disease or disability in a *population*.


Double-blinded study

Treatment assignment (to either experimental or control group) is unknown to patients *and* healthcare providers. Sometimes referred to as patient-provider masking.


Experimental group

The group that receives the "new" treatment in an experiment.


External validity

The extent to which the results of a study can be *generalized* from the study sample to the *target population*.


Extraneous variable

1. Any variable that is not directly related to the purpose of the study but that may affect the dependent variable; sometimes termed "intervening" or "confounding variables."
2. Can be external factors emerging from the environment and the experiment or internal factors that represent personal characteristics of the subjects of the study.


Internal validity

Refers to whether the independent variable made a difference.



Organizing framework that contains a set of assumptions or values that underlie how scientists view reality, truth, and research.


Qualitative research

1. Research directed at the discovery of *meaning* and underlying philosophical inquiry or psychological and sociological underpinnings.
2. Research involving the use of language, concepts, and words rather than numbers to represent evidence from research, with a focus on *processes*.
3. Focus is on an individual's perspective in a social context, social and thinking processes, discovery of information, participatory involvement of researcher as a means of data collection, and description of happenings. The design is highly *flexible*.


Quantitative research

1. Research directed at the discovery of *relationships and cause and effect*. Methods used are based on the *scientific method* of inquiry.
2. Research concerned with the measurement and analysis of *relationships between and among variables* at a particular point in time, with a focus on *outcomes*.
3. Focus is on measurement, testing, explanations, verification of facts, testing of theoretical relationships, statistical significance, internal validity, and prediction of events.


Randomized clinical trial (RCT)

1. A prospective study evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention/treatment in a large sample of patients. Essential features of a clinical trial include use of an experimental and control group, randomization, masking of patients and health-care providers, and sufficient sample sizes.
2. The *gold standard* for evaluating the *effectiveness* of an intervention on a sample.


Research design

1. Set of guidelines by which a researcher *obtains answers to questions*.
2. An overall plan or blueprint that outlines aspects of sample collection and analyses based on specific research questions and/or hypotheses.
3. Purpose: Answer questions or test hypotheses; forms the link between the researcher's framework and research questions with the resultant data.
4. Characteristics: Provides methodological direction (sampling, random assignment); a general, nonspecific approach to a study or question; guides the researcher's specific plan.


Single-blinded study

Treatment assignment (to either experimental or control group) is unknown to *patients*.


Experimental vs. quasi-experimental research designs

1. Experimental: Offers the greatest amount of *control* over independent variables, and involves *control, random assignment, and manipulation*.
2. Quasi-experimental: Involves manipulation of an independent variable, but *lacks randomization or a control group.*


Factors guiding the choice of a research design

1. The topic of interest under investigation.
2. The purpose of the study.
3. The amount of knowledge on the topic.
4. The individual's philosophy or *paradigm*.


If little is known about a particular topic, a _ research design is used.

Descriptive or exploratory.


If a particular phenomenon is well defined and measured, a more structured design, such as an _ research design, may be appropriate.

Experimental or quasi-experimental.


_ designs develop from a strong theoretical base, emerge from questions regarding explanation and relationships between and among variables, and generally derive from evolving knowledge in the area of inquiry.



_ designs emerge from a strong research tradition and perhaps theoretical base, evolve from questions about understanding and description of phenomena, and generally emerge from evolving knowledge.



Random assignment

Allocation of subjects to either an experimental or a control group.



The ability for the researcher to determine what form/action an *independent variable* will take.


Randomized pretest-posttest control group design

Experimental design in which random assignment is used; *pretesting* provides information about the similarity of experimental and control groups on measures of the dependent variable before the independent variable is introduced.


Randomized posttest-only control group

1. Experimental design in which random assignment is used, but *only* a posttest is administered.
2. Example: Post-operative pain - there is no reason to ask the person about pain before they have the surgery.


One-group pretest-posttest design

Weak experimental (quasi-experimental) design in which both pretesting and posttesting are conducted, but only an experimental group is used.


Nonequivalent control group design

1. The most common type of *quasi-experimental* design; also called a comparison group. Involves two groups and a pretest/posttest design, but subjects are *not* randomly assigned to one of the two groups.
2. Common in nursing research - baseline data are collected from both groups; one group receives an intervention while the other does not; data are collected again.


Three identifying properties of a true experimental design

1. Randomization or random assignment.
2. Control.
3. Manipulation.