The study was approved by an Institutional Review Board as it is a requirement of the journal where it was published. Notably, the article is peer reviewed. Though it is not explicitly stated that the informed consent was obtained from subjects, participants were volunteers and competed questionnaires where ethical issues were mentioned. There is no explicit information on anonymity or confidentiality. Vulnerable subjects (children under 12) took part in the study but their parents helped them to complete questionnaires.
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In fact, it is possible to note that most part of the participants can be regarded as vulnerable as they are diagnosed with such mental disorder as autism. It does not appear that subjects might have been forced to participate in the research. Since a new shorter assessment measures have been developed, benefits outweigh risks associated with the study.
Thus, healthcare professionals will be able to get the necessary information quicker and people completing questions will be more attentive and diligent as they will provide more comprehensive data. Since the subjects were volunteers and completed certain questionnaires, it is likely that they had the opportunity to contact the researchers. Nonetheless, there is no such information in the article in question. It is unlikely that each participant was told about the way they could get the results of the research. However, this information is not given explicitly in the article.
The research area is clear as the introduction part of the article contains some information on the need of a proper assessment of autism. It is clear that existing assessment tools are effective but time-consuming and this is associated with frustration of patients and their close ones. The research question is not highlighted but there is a purpose statement as Allison, Auyeung and Baron-Cohen (2012, p. 202) note that the study is aimed at identifying “10 items on the Autism Spectrum Quotient (AQ)” and “the Quantitative Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (Q-CHAT)”.
The article contains sufficient information on the population and variables including age and DSM-IV criteria. It is possible to note that the study was totally quantitative as quantitative research methods (the number of people and a short list of question were central to the research, not their evaluations or opinions) were used and these methods were described in detail in the methods section of the article. Clearly, empirical data were gathered on the topic of interest as people with certain disorder completed questionnaires on the symptoms they or their children experience and the most informative criteria were extracted.
It seems that the study was ethical as participants were volunteers who eagerly participated in the study. Importantly, the study’s feasibility is apparent as a large number of participants completed the questionnaires and a shorter set of criteria could be developed on the basis of this research. The present study is very important for nursing as effective and quick assessment of the symptoms can help healthcare professionals including nurses to develop proper treatment.
The article does not have a separate section for the literature review but there is a comprehensive review in the introduction and discussion sections. The literature review is concise as major issues concerning symptoms assessment are highlighted as well as researchers’ ideas on the matter. Thus, it is possible to state that the review flows logically from the purpose of the study which is aimed at defining major criteria for an efficient assessment. It is clear that the existing assessment used by psychologists is not very effective as it requires significant amount of time.
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According to many researchers referred to in the article, people often feel frustrated and reluctant to invest a lot of time to completing questionnaires. Therefore, it becomes clear that there is a need in a shorter questionnaire. All the sources are relevant as they concentrate on autisms and its assessment. The vast majority of the sources are peer reviewed and have been critically appraised. At that, there are both classical and recent sources though sources of the 2010s prevail. The authors do not include direct quotes.
Allison et al. (2012) refer to supporting theory and research mainly without reference to an opposing theory. As seen from the sources’ titles, both primary and secondary sources are used though primary sources prevail. These sources report on results of certain experiments and studies. All the sources cited in the article are on the reference list. The reference is free from citation errors and seems very sophisticated.
The framework is clearly defined as Allison et al. (2012) state that assessment criteria have been identified and it is important to reduce the number of the criteria to make the assessment more effective and rapid. The framework is loosely connected with nursing theory but is tied to diagnosis. Obviously, nurses can also benefit from the use of the developed set of criteria which enables people to assess autism symptoms within shorter period of time. The framework seems appropriate for the present study as it aims at shortening the list of assessment criteria which are quite numerous and can be inconsistent or superfluous.
The concepts are clearly defined as the researchers try to come up with an effective assessment tool based on existing sets of criteria. However, the relationships among concepts are not clearly presented. The article does not contain a propositional statement or operational definitions. The researchers relate the study to the framework used as they claim it is possible to single out ten most efficient criteria. Notably, the findings provide support for the study framework.
Notably, the article does not contain a set of hypotheses but the authors note that the aim at providing only “the first step in developing the measures” of clinical assessment and identifying which 10 “items from each of the adult AQ, adolescent AQ, child AQ, and Q-CHAT” could be as effective as “the full-length versions of these instruments” (Allison et al, 2012, p. 204).
Even though there is no clearly defined hypothesis, it is apparent that the goal of the study can be achieved through analysis of people’s questionnaires. Clearly, it is possible to single out most relevant questions as the existing measurement tools often have similar questions. At that, researchers make a prediction that it is possible to single out 10 most relevant questions to create a shorter and more effective questionnaire. The authors provide their efficient questionnaire at the end of the article.
The design of the study is described in the methods section of the article. The design is appropriate as it enables the researchers to achieve the goal of the study and identify 10 universal criteria to be used during assessment of symptoms. The researchers estimated effectiveness of each criteria and identified 10 most relevant questions. The study did not use experimental design as only data were collected and evaluated. As has been mentioned above, the study is the first step in developing an efficient measurement and there is no need in an experimental approach.
However, the next step will require such approach as it is necessary to check whether the developed set of criteria is effective and accurate. It is necessary to note that assignment of subjects was clearly described in the methods section. The researchers revealed major characteristics of participants who took part in the study. The major focus was made on age and symptoms as well as diagnosis.
At that, the design does not allow (and it not relevant) to draw a cause-and-effect relationships between the variables as the study focuses on identification of 10 most efficient questions which do not depend on age or symptoms. To control extraneous variables, the researchers included only adults, adolescents and children who “did not report any neurodevelopmental diagnosis” (Allison et al, 2012, p. 206).
A quantitative research method is the most appropriate for the present study as researchers are not interested in evaluation or opinion of people. The study is concerned with identifying most efficient criteria used by psychologists. Admittedly, it was important to compare questionnaires of participants to be able to define these criteria. The study focuses on the objective nature of human experience as the participants report on symptoms they are experiencing (not their ideas on subjects).
No significant qualitative approach was described as this type of research would be irrelevant to the study. The study finding will have certain significance for nursing as nurses will have a shorter and effective list of criteria for potential clients. Nurses will also be able to access the questionnaires where they will see major symptoms. However, physicians will benefit more as the study will help in diagnosis more. The researchers describe how participants were selected in detail in the methods section. It is not explicitly stated in the article how the sample size was determined.
More than 1,000 participants were included in the research. The data collection and recording is presented in detail, which makes the study concise and relevant. It is clear that to avoid bias all people whose characteristics complied with the requirements of the study were included irrespective of gender, age, race, socioeconomic status and so on. Notably, the data analysis method is consistent with the purpose of the research as most efficient questions could be defined through analysis of answers to questionnaires used by psychologists.
The results of the study are clearly presented in the results and discussion sections. More so, the results are also presented in tables and this makes them easier to comprehend. As for limitations, the researchers note that people who have already obtained diagnosis participated in the study. The authors also state that the other limitation is that people with different types of diagnosis took part in the study. The researchers also provide suggestions for further research. Allison et al. (2012) claim that it is necessary to use the developed set of criteria with people whose symptoms have not been assessed.
Allison, C., Auyeung, B., & Baron-Cohen, S. (2012). Toward brief “red flags” for autism screening: The short autism spectrum quotient and the short quantitative checklist in 1,000 cases and 3,000 controls. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(2), 202-212.