Types of research
Quantitative Research is based on numeric figures or numbers. Quantitative research aims to measure the quantity or amount and compares it with past records and tries to project for a future period. In social sciences, “quantitative research refers to the systematic empirical investigation of quantitative properties and phenomena and their relationships”. The objective of quantitative research is to develop and employ mathematical models, theories, or hypotheses pertaining to phenomena.
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The process of measurement is central to quantitative research because it provides a fundamental connection between empirical observation and mathematical expression of quantitative relationships. Statistics is the most widely used branch of mathematics in quantitative research. Statistical methods are used extensively in fields such as economics and commerce. Qualitative research presents a non-quantitative type of analysis.
Qualitative research is collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data by observing what people do and say. Qualitative research refers to the meanings, definitions, characteristics, symbols, metaphors, and descriptions of things. Qualitative research is much more subjective and uses very different methods of collecting information, mainly individual, in-depth interviews, and focus groups. Applied research is designed to solve practical problems of the modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge’s sake.
The goal of applied research is to improve the human condition. It focuses on analysis and solving social and real-life problems. This research is generally conducted on a large scale basis and is expensive. Evidence-based practice demands changes in the education of students, more practice-relevant research, and closer working relationships between clinicians and researchers. Evidence-based practice also provides opportunities for nursing care to be more individualized, more effective, streamlined, and dynamic, and to maximize the effects of clinical judgment.
When evidence is used to define best practices rather than to support existing practices, nursing care keeps pace with the latest technological advances and takes advantage of new knowledge developments. Not all information is created equal. Just because you find information at the library does not guarantee that it is accurate or good research. In an academic setting, being able to critically evaluate information is necessary in order to conduct quality research. Each item you find must be evaluated to determine its quality and credibility in order to best support your research.
To evaluate a source consider the following:
- Who published the source? Is it a university press or a large reputable publisher? Is it from a government agency? Is the source self-published? What is the purpose of the publication?
- Where does the information in the source come from? Does the information appear to be valid and well-researched, or is it questionable and unsupported by evidence? Is there a list of references or works cited? What is the quality of these references?
- Who is the author? What are the author’s credentials (educational background, past writing, experience) in this area? Have you seen the author’s name cited in other sources or bibliographies?
- Is the content a first-hand account or is it being retold? Primary sources are the raw material of the research process; secondary sources are based on primary sources.
- When was the source published? Is the source current or out of date for your topic?
- What is the author’s intention? Is the information fact, opinion, or propaganda? Is the author’s point of view objective and impartial? Is the language free of emotion-rousing words or bias?
- Is the publication organized logically? Are the main points clearly presented? Do you find the text easy to read? Is the author repetitive?
All of the information listed above must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not a source is credible.
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Applied research does not necessarily consist of large-scale projects. It is often narrowly focused, seeking to address a specific need. Applied research builds upon theories and conclusions of the previous general research. Applied research impacts nursing practice as it attempts to deliver the evidence necessary for the development of new practices. Credible nursing research is conducted in both academic and health care settings. However, they intertwine, both producing educational and practice-oriented results.
It is important to note that new evidence is critical for the development of best practices. However, research should be grounded in theoretical frameworks. Meanwhile, assumptions of best practices should be scientifically based rather than relying on consensus or intuition (Boswell & Cannon, 2017).
When conducting research, there are many different types and approaches that can be utilized. Quantitative, qualitative, and basic research are all examples of these. Quantitative methods of research place an emphasis on measurements and statistics obtained through an interview in an attempt to formulate a relationship amongst variables (USC Libraries, 2017). Qualitative research, on the other hand, focuses on the qualities and meanings of a given topic and works to examine intimate relationships between variables by conducting personal interviews (USC Libraries, 2017). Lastly, basic research is done to gain scientific knowledge without having an immediate benefit in mind.
The research is conducted to further knowledge on a given topic but does not have a particular benefit it is achieving (Science, Medicine, and Animals, 2004). All of these methods are unique in their own way but ultimately aim at furthering knowledge.
In evidence-based practice, the use of credible research is important. When evidence is transitioned into practice, it must be credible in order to ensure optimal outcomes. Patient safety is of utmost importance and if unreliable research is implemented in the healthcare setting, the safety of patients may be compromised.
In determining whether or not a source is credible, Owl Purdue outlines various areas to assess. The author, date, purpose, and sources are evaluated to ensure credibility. The author must have valid credentials in their areas of study, the research must be current and with updated information, the purpose must be clear, and the sources that are used and valued must be present.
The description of basic research is confusing, as the lack of benefit from the investigation completely contradicts the overall purpose of scientific inquiry. Any experimentation and research are conducted to discover some piece of information. The researching parties may receive no benefit from it, but that concept applies to both quantitative and qualitative research as well. The term “basic research” is used in research and development (R&D) as a description of early experimenting stages.
It is based on theoretical frameworks and exploration of unknown concepts to develop an overall understanding of a field of study or specific theory. Meanwhile, clinical research focuses on investigating new treatments. Basic research can lead to interdisciplinary collaboration with clinical research known as translational research to improve patient care (Lin, 2013).
A variety of research exists to fulfill the search for new knowledge. Examples of types of research include qualitative, quantitative, and descriptive. Qualitative and quantitative research types differ in their focus on the research. The focus of quantitative research is to represent the collected data through numbers and statistics whereas the focus of qualitative research explores a phenomenon to give it meaning, which means that the data collection is more subjective (Schmidt & Brown, 2015). The similarities between these two types of research include both address variation in data and error occurrence and both can be experimental or non-experimental (Schmidt & Brown, 2015).
On the other hand, descriptive research is similar to quantitative because it is a subcategory of this type of research. Although descriptive research is a subcategory of quantitative research, it differs from the general type of research because it represents characteristics of a phenomenon through numbers instead of identifying a relationship between variables through numbers (Sousa, V.D., Driessnack, M., & Mendes, I.A., 2007). Overall, there are different types of research methods because not all questions can be answered appropriately with only one type of research.
The quality of care and plan of care directly affects patients, which is why evidence-based practice is implemented. The evidence-based practice provides the best quality of care and the best possible outcomes supported by clinical experience, critical thinking ability, and clinical knowledge (Schmidt & Brown, 2015). Therefore, to improve the quality of care and client outcomes in the safest manner, credible research is necessary and research that is not credible potentially causes harm or no effect (Warren, 2015).
To determine a credible source, there are several features to check for. The authors’ credentials and relevancy (experts in the field of research for the sought knowledge), the publication of findings (the findings were published officially by a recognized organization), and validity (peer-reviewed and findings similar to previous research) are the features of a credible source (Weida & Stolley, 2013). Although credibility is not limited to these features, credible research should be carefully selected.
Evidence-based practice is viewed as simply applying research to the quality of care and some medical outcomes. However, the process is complex. Evidence-based practices were created to consider the nurses’ perspective, allowing them to optimize the profession’s contribution. Every aspect of evidence-based practice in nursing revolves around human capital. The practices must be adopted through education and training. A network of research and theory development exists to support scientific engagement from nurses. All this combined allows forming the extensive models and frameworks of medical practices that are utilized in patient care (Stevens, 2013).
Evidence-based practice (EBP)
One of the key principles in medicine is evidence-based practice (EBP). Evidence-based practice describes a model of care whereby nurses, using current evidence or research knowledge, make decisions using clinical expertise and patient preferences to guide patient care (Schmidt & Brown, 2015). Nurses play a key role in preventing illness before it happens by adhering to evidence-based infection-control policies. This includes keeping the healthcare environment clean, practicing correct handwashing, wearing personal protective clothing, using barrier precautions. By following infection control policies, the spread of many preventable infections and diseases can be reduced in hospitalized patients and healthcare workers.
Healthcare workers’ hands are the most common vehicle for the transmission of healthcare-associated pathogens from patient to patient and within the healthcare environment. Hand hygiene is recognized by infection prevention and control experts as the single most important intervention in decreasing the spread of infection in both healthcare and community settings. According to the latest guidelines from the WHO, healthcare workers should practice proper hand hygiene before touching the patient, after touching the patient, after touching inanimate objects in the patient’s surroundings, after exposure to bodily fluids and before clean/aseptic procedures.
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Also, it is significant to know the techniques of hand hygiene. Soap and water are still considered the gold standard for hand hygiene. When using soap and water, it is important to wet the hands first, then apply 3 to 5 mL of soap to the hands, avoiding bar soap. Next, rub the hands together for a minimum of 15 seconds covering all surfaces of the hands and fingers. Finally rinse the hands-off with water, dry thoroughly with a paper towel and use the paper towel to turn off the faucet.
A solid hand hygiene program with documented compliance will reduce the risk for transmission of microorganisms to patients, reduce the risk for healthcare worker colonization, and also reduce the mortality, morbidity, and costs associated with the treatment of healthcare-acquired infections (Garrett, 2013). This practice is within the scope of nurses. Patients will feel cared for when they see nurses washing their hands. During my clinical rotations, nurses washed their hands frequently before and after entering a patient’s room, and after exposure to bodily fluids. I would not suggest further changes to the technique of hand hygiene because nurses understand the importance of hand hygiene, and hopefully, every healthcare worker is compliant with infection control policies.
Hand hygiene is critical in preventing transmission of infections. However, the compliance rates with the established guidelines are suboptimal. This occurs because the behavior is complex and repetitive. A mental framework is required to influence behavior and proper habits. Proper training and reminders serve as indicators for improving this evidence-based practice. In addition, behavioral change psychology theory can be used as a tool to improve hygiene (Srigley et al., 2015).
Evidence-based practice is a way with which health care professional is able to best affect patient care. The Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses defines the evidence-based practice as, “EBP integrates the best available evidence to guide nursing care and improve patient outcomes. This helps health practitioners address health care questions with an evaluative and qualitative approach…Evidence-based practice (EBP) is the conscientious use of concurrent best evidence in making decisions about patient care” (2017, p. 1). This practice is crucial within nursing practice in order to ensure that patients are receiving the best, most effective, and safest care that is possible.
A useful tool to help form clinical questions (and possible interventions) regarding areas to be improved upon in the clinical setting is the PICOT format. P stands for the patient/problem, I stands for intervention/issue, C is for comparison, O is for the outcome, and T is for time. There are many evidence-based practices that are used in the clinical setting such as infection control (using personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, etc.), and even measuring blood pressure noninvasively in children (Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses, 2017).
One changed initiated that is EBP based, is the use of the barcode method of medication administration. This initiative was somewhat within the nurse’s scope of practice, but the change did have to originate and be implemented by nurses. There were definite beneficial outcomes from this change, and the biggest one to be mentioned is the decrease in adverse drug events that came as a result of this.
This has increased the safety and accuracy when it comes to administering medications in the correct dosages to patients. However, there are some negative results that have happened from this. One of these is the relaxed attitude with drug administration. It is important to remember that this is still a drug that someone is imbibing, and it has effects; therefore, this is not something that should be taken lightly.
While the evidence-based practice is a necessary development in the medical field, it failed to improve efficiency and clinical outcomes that were expected exponentially. This occurs due to various medical disciplines and agents working independently and lacking a systematic approach. Many medical professionals, even at the level of nursing, have unique theoretical frameworks and methods. While the patient-centered care approach is popular, there should be standard guidelines and strategies based on the best available evidence (Hegedus & Wright, 2017).
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