The paper discusses the statistical methods used in two research papers, namely, Nursing students’ Knowledge and Beliefs about Care of Older Adults in a shifting Context of Nursing Education by Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney (2012) and Nurses’ Perceptions of Pain Management in Older Adults by Gropelli and Sharer (2013). The findings indicate that the researchers in these reports used valid statistical methods to collect, analyze, and present their data. However, the main weakness with the two research reports is in the presentation of data. This presentation was not adequately done. The papers are sufficient to make changes as proposed in their conclusions.
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Research has contributed to the setting of standards in the practice of nursing. Accredited studies influence the treatment and care that patients get. The development of policies is also guided by the research findings on the best nursing practices. The formulation of objectives, development of appropriate methods of collecting data, data analysis, and presentation of the results are some of the primary components of a professionally done research.
For research to be credible, the right sample must be selected, with the results being analysed using the most appropriate methods for the variables. The research questions should also be answered appropriately and fully by the research for it to fulfil the objectives. This paper is a statistical assessment of two research reports. The research reports being discussed are Nursing Students’ Knowledge and Beliefs about Care of Older Adults in a shifting Context of Nursing Education by Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney (2012) and Nurses’ Perceptions of Pain Management in Older Adults by Gropelli and Sharer (2013).
Review of the Data Analysis
In the first research paper by Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney, the researchers set out to determine the nursing students’ knowledge and beliefs about care of older adults in a shifting context of nursing education (2012). The researchers claim that with the introduction of a new nursing course in a large Canadian university, the institution introduced integrated gerontological theories and clinical practice within the course (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2552). Therefore, they aimed to determine the effectiveness of the new course on the influence of the knowledge of nursing students and their beliefs about the elderly in their care (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2552).
The second research report by Gropelli and Sharer developed from a gap in research about the perceptions and attitudes in one of the facilities on the management of pain in older individuals (2013, p. 377). Therefore, the paper had the aim of determining the perceptions that nurses have on the management of pain in older adults in the course of their long-term care (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The research question that they developed was about “nurses’ perceptions of pain management for older adults in long-term care facilities” (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377).
In the first research, a survey was conducted with the research tool being the questionnaire with 45 questions that the respondents had to answer. A sample of participants was selected for the administration of the questionnaires. A quiz that determined the knowledge of participants on the research question was also utilised (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). The questionnaires and the quiz contained the questions that provided the data for the analysis that followed. The data included the demographic information, the beliefs under study, and knowledge of the participants on the issue under research (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553).
In the second research, the data collection method used included the selection of an appropriate sample size and an interview to the participants. Sixteen nurses, including one male and fifteen females, were interviewed in the institution of focus. These nurses were selected at random with no sampling method used except those who were on duty that day (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The study took place in the United States in one of the large nursing facilities, with the participants being licensed for at least 15 years. The data collected for the interviews was then used for the analysis.
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In the first research report, the researchers indicate that their source of data was a questionnaire consisting of 45 questions, which were structured to provide the answers for the survey (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). The questionnaire was also structured and divided into sections for the answering of the various questions emerging from the objectives. It took 15-20 minutes to answer the questions. The parts of the questionnaire included a demographic section, a part assessing the knowledge on care of the older people, beliefs held on the care of older adults, and a section on qualitative data (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). In these sections, the questionnaire consisted of quizzes such as facts on aging, a scale of people’s perceptions towards the caring of older people, and an open-ended question (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553).
The second research utilised interviews as the tool for the collection of data (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The researchers opted to use one method of data collection. Participants were only interviewed to establish their knowledge and practices in pain management in the elderly in the institutions. The researchers describe that this tool provided them with the required information for the conclusions provided. Besides, it allowed them to analyze the data efficiently (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377).
Independent and Dependent Variables
An independent variable is one that is constant in a research. It influences the change of other variables. On the other hand, a dependent variable is the variable that is affected by another. As a result, it changes in accordance with the changes in the independent variable. In the first research by Baumbusch, Dahlke and Phinney, the independent variable is the age of the participants, with the dependent variable being the exhibited knowledge by each participant (2012, p. 2554). In the second research, the independent variable described by the researchers was the experience of the participants in nursing, while the dependent variable was their perceptions in pain management for the elderly (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377).
Sample Size Estimation
Sample size is an important aspect of any research. A small sample size makes the generalization of research findings on a population difficult and inaccurate. On the other hand, a larger sample size of the total population under study is more effective in the provision of credible and more generalizable results. In the first research, the authors invited students who had enrolled in the new nursing course at the university. All were welcome to participate and answer the questionnaires, which were provided to them at their first and last classes in the course (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). 36% of the students were selected based on the desired identifiers for the researchers. Power analysis was conducted in the sampling, with results of, “power of 0.80, alpha of 0.05, the effect size being 0.30 for a two-tailed paired t-test” (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). The sample size was appropriate for the statistical test because it involved a relatively large group of the participants who had the desired characteristic. The number also satisfied the relevant tests.
In the second research, the researchers had a sample size of 16, with fifteen of the participants being female while the other one was a male participant. The researchers also used calculations of “theoretical saturation according to the qualitative method of a grounded theory approach” (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The researchers used this model based on the characteristics that they were searching for. They claimed that theoretical saturation allowed them to make their cases that the concepts under study were repeated over time in the participants (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The researchers did not state whether they conducted power analysis in the sample size selection. In spite of being small, the sample size of 16 participants used by the researchers was adequate to make the necessary conclusions and recommendations such a number had the characteristics that the researchers wanted.
Statistic to measure Hypothesis
The statistic used to measure the hypothesis varies in each research. The strength of the data produced by the research can be determined using this statistic. The hypotheses are then tested using the test statistic. The findings are then used to draw a conclusion that the researchers provide. In the first research by Baumbusch, Dahlke and Phinney, the data was analyzed using SPSS version 18.0 (2012, p. 2553). The statistic used to test the hypothesis was the paired t-test, with the qualitative data hand-coded and thematic analysis being used to analyse it (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2554). The assumptions were met in the hypothesis analysis. The method of hypothesis measurement used was appropriate since it has been found to be an effective method of testing hypotheses in studies.
In the second research, the researchers had gathered audio recordings from the interviews. They analysed the data that was contained therein. The analysis method used was open coding and abstraction (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377). The method of statistical analysis also constituted the use of coding method, applying the coding paradigm and relationships between the categories (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 378). The assumptions were met in the analysis of hypothesis. The method of hypothesis measurement used was appropriate since it has been found to be an efficient technique of testing theories in research.
The method used to display data in the presentation of the research findings should provide an effective means of communication between the researcher and the audience. A well-presented research is appealing to readers and the people who go through the research findings. It also makes it easier for them to understand. On the other hand, poorly presented research findings are unappealing to the audience. They make a research, which was initially credible, appear less detailed and difficult to understand. In the research papers under evaluation, the presentation of the results took into consideration the main questions that each paper sought to answer.
In the first paper, the researchers were able to obtain statistical data in their research for use in the results. The researchers presented their results in plain text. They did not include tables and graphs in their presentation. This strategy was not an appropriate way to present their findings since it makes it difficult for the readers and other researchers to trace the information in the research findings. It is also insufficient to create a mental picture. However, the presentation methods were sufficient based on the data that the researchers obtained. The hypothesis being tested and the objectives had little statistical data to be presented in graphic form (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2554).
In the second research, the researchers also obtained statistical data from their results, which they analysed to make the conclusions at the end of the research. They used plain text also to explain and state their findings from the research. There was no use of graphs or charts. However, they used a figure to explain the outcomes. The presentation method was efficient since the data from the results was self-explainable and hard to present in graphic form (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377).
Data analysis Evaluation
The conclusions made in any research area predict the strength of the methods used, the quality of the data collected, and the methods used in the analysis of these data. In the above research papers, a number of conclusions are made based on the research questions. In the first research, Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney set out to determine the knowledge and beliefs of nursing students on the care of older adults (2012). They concluded that the students had remarkable improvements in the knowledge and beliefs about the care of the older individuals after the completion of their course (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2554). The conclusions made were further supported by the data obtained. As an opinion, the conclusions made are credible because the method used for the collection, analysis, and presentation of the data was standard based on how it managed to prove the hypothesis.
In the second research paper that investigated the nurses’ perception of older adult pain management (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 377), the researchers concluded that nurses had a perception that pain management was adequately managed in the older individuals (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 381). The conclusions made in this research were also credible based on the methods used for the analysis and evaluation. The data obtained was also collected in a credible and scientific manner. The opinion is therefore in agreement with the research findings based on the statistical analysis provided.
The researchers provided a number of limitations that they encountered in their respective studies. Every researcher faces a number of limitations when conducting a study. The results of the study depend on how well they are able to respond to the limitations. In the first research, the researchers attempted to investigate the change, which the course that students had enrolled to, had brought to their knowledge and beliefs on the care of older individuals (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2550). A limitation that they stated was that most of the students had prior healthcare experiences, with most of them also having a first-degree (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2555). This may have influenced the beliefs that they held at the beginning of the course and the eventual change at the end of it.
The other limitation that the researchers stated was the response rate to the questionnaires, with only 36% of the students responding. The other limitation was the bias of answering the same questions at the beginning and the end of the course (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2555). The researchers also stated that the time that was available for the research was inadequate and rather short to make the necessary conclusions (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2555). However, the researchers did not state how they dealt with these limitations. This may have contributed towards making the conclusions weaker than expected.
The researchers in the second study also stated some of the limitations that they came across in their research. Gropelli and Sharer state that the care facility that the research was conducted in was long-term. Their sample was sex-biased since only one male was considered. Moreover, participants had a similar background (2013, p. 381). The participants had also worked only in that station. They may have agreed to participate based on their strong feelings on pain management (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 381). Just like the first researchers, the second researchers did not state how they dealt with the limitations. They only proposed future studies that need to be devoid of such limitations.
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Overall Methods Evaluation
The overall method evaluation for the first research paper provides an example of a professionally done work. The methods used to collect the data, analyse it, and present it are adequate and satisfactory. The researchers had different sets of data that they were able to evaluate and use to make valid conclusions. In the research by Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney, the best-done part in the statistical analysis is the analysis of the data obtained. This part followed the right statistical method (2012, p. 2553). On the other hand, the data presentation was poor, with no figures, graphs, or tables used in the data presentation. I trust these results because of the analysis and methods used.
In the second research, Gropelli and Sharer put a thorough use of literature review and organise their work in a logical and easy-to-understand manner (2013, p. 381). The best-done part of this research was the discussion of the results and the literature review. The researchers took time into this part. However, the data presentation was also insufficient just as it was witnessed in the first research. The results are credible due to the professional manner in which the data collection took place (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 381). The analysis and conclusions are also complementary.
Understanding the Data
Each of the studies discussed has a number of implications and usefulness to the nursing peers and the nursing profession at large. In the first research, the researchers evaluated the knowledge and beliefs in the care of older individuals (Baumbusch, Dahlke, & Phinney, 2012, p. 2553). The conclusions that the course offered managed to change the beliefs and knowledge of the participants over the short period. This means that the nursing practice trained in the institutions is sufficient to instil the necessary attitudes and beliefs on the care of nursing older individuals. Baumbusch, Dahlke, and Phinney contributed to the development of the idea that the teaching of gerontological theories and clinical practice in the nursing institutions is necessary to produce a change in the attitudes of students towards the elderly in the effort to improve their care (2012, p. 2555).
The second research establishes some barriers in the management of pain for the older individuals in the nursing institutions. The implications are that the nursing care in these institutions should participate in the management of pain in the older individuals by practicing the right management practices. Gropelli and Sharer suggest the development of an effective pain management strategy in the nursing institution, which should be focused on the nurses’ perceptions and biases (2013, p. 381). They suggest that since the knowledge of the nurses surveyed was insufficient in the management of the pain in the elderly patients, more training should be done, with nurses being taught on the same issue (Gropelli, & Sharer, 2013, p. 381).
In the first study, the peers might think that it is well organized, with most of them commenting on the sample selection, sample size, and duration of the research. However, the analysis of the data and review of relevant literature might be appealing to them. However, they might find the aforementioned limitations confusing in the research. Such limitations were discussed to affect the overall results of the research since the researchers proceeded to provide conclusions even with the presence of the limitations. In the second research, the peers might find the research relevant, with the only confusing thing being the data analysis method used. They might say that the research is inadequate and unprofessional based on the number of participants and the biases demonstrated therein.
Based on the personal evaluation of the statistics, the two studies are sufficient in the provision of evidence to change practice. In the first research, the researchers established a knowledge gap on the subject under study. They used their literature review to explain this knowledge gap. They also proceeded to use advanced selection of participants who were appropriate for the study. Despite this being a limitation, the short duration of the course allowed the researchers to conduct a fast and informative research on the changes in attitudes for the participants. The statistics that the study used were relevant. Moreover, the hypotheses were tested using a relevant statistical test. The paired t-test applied in the research has been used in a number of researches. As a result, it provided adequate proof for the various subjects under investigation. The conclusions made were also related to the findings, thus making the research work credible. It could be useful work in the implementation of changes in the field. However, more research is needed to support the findings.
The second research is also credible, with the data presentation and validity of the conclusions being high. The researchers also conducted a literature review after the development of the research objectives, thus finding a gap in the literature that they sought to seal. The choice of method allowed a detailed data collection process. The participants go to disclose most of the information needed. Although the data presentation was also not adequate, the results were provided after the data collection. They were analysed using a statistical method that is not commonly used. Nevertheless, the method was suitable for the kind of information collected from the participants. The conclusions reflected the results obtained. This research can be important in the influence of future nursing practices and training.
Baumbusch, J., Dahlke, S. & Phinney, A. (2012). Nursing students’ knowledge and beliefs about care of older adults in a shifting context of nursing education. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 68(11), 2550–2558.
Gropelli, T., & Sharer, J. (2013). Nurses’ Perceptions of Pain Management in Older Adults. Med Surg Nursing, 22(6), 375-382.