Predicting the future: Hypotheses

What is the difference between a research question and hypothesis?  A hypothesis is a predicted answer and focuses on testing whether a particular cause(s) actually creates a particular effect(s) (i.e., ASA lowers MI risk).   A hypothesis allows us to test whether we are telling the future correctly.  ( note: It may be written in interrogative form, but should not be confused with a research question.  If the terms cause, effect, or any of their synonyms occur you are dealing with a hypothesis: an educated prediction.)

On the other hand, we use a research question when we don’t know enough to predict possible cause and effect, & merely want to describe something.  A question may also be used to find out whether or not 2 things are related to each other, but we aren’t ready to identify one as causing the other (i.e., which came 1st, the chicken or the egg?—these are related, but which was the cause?)  Research questions allow us to gather information that may lead to hypotheses.

There you have it.  Consider yourself introduced to hypotheses and research questions.

What do you think?

Critical thinking question: One of the following is a hypothesis & one is a research question.  Which is which?

  1.  The purpose of this study was to describe the expectations for pain relief of patients with abdominal pain and how their communication with providers relates to their overall pain relief. (Yee et al 2006)
  2.  We investigated whether a brief pain communication/education strategy would improve patient pain communication skills. (Smith et al, 2010)

Happy research reading!

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