Category Archives: Data

DATA COLLECTION SECTION! (Methods in the Madness)

Key point! The data collection section of a research article includes: who collects what data when, where & how.

In previous blogs we’ve looked at title, introduction, and other elements of methods section (design, sample, & setting). In this one let’s take a look at data collection.

Data are a collection of measurements. For example, student scores on a classroom test might be 97, 90, 88, 85, & so on. Each single score is a datum; collectively they are data.

What data are collected is answered in this section. The data (or measurements) can be counting-hashmarksnumbers OR words. For example, numbers data might include patient ratings of their pain on a 0-10 scale. An example of word data would asking participants to describe something in words without counting the words or anything else.  For example, word data might include patient descriptions pain in words, like word-art“stabbing,”  “achy,” and so on.  Sometimes a researcher collects both number and word data in the same study to give a more complete description.  You can see how knowing the patient’s pain rating and hearing a description would give you a much clearer picture of pain.

  • Studies reporting data in numbers are called quantitative studies
  • Studies reporting data in words/descriptions are called qualitative studies
  • Studies reporting number & word data are called mixed methods studies

How the data are collected includes what instrument or tool was used to gather data (e.g., observation, biophysical measure, or self-report) and how consistently & accurately that tool measures what it is supposed to measure (e.g., reliability & validity). Also included is who collected the data and the procedures that they followed—how did they obtain consent, interaction with subjects, timing of data collection and so on.

Now you know!

Critical thinking question: Did these authors use qualitative or quantitative data collection methods?  Coelho, A., Parola, V., Escobar-Bravo, M., & Apostolo, J. (2016). Comfort experience in palliative care, BMD Palliative care, 15(71). doi: 10.1186/s12904-016-0145-0.  Explain your answer.

Self-Report Data: “To use or not to use. That is the question.”

[Note: The following was inspired by and benefited from Rob Hoskin’s post at http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/the-dangers-of-self-report/]Penguins

If you want to know what someone thinks or feels, you ask them, right?

The same is true in research, but it is good to know the pros and cons of using the “self-report method” of collecting data in order to answer a research question.  Most often self-report is done in ‘paper & pencil’ or SurveyMonkey form, but it can be done by interview.

Generally self-report is easy and inexpensive, and sometimes facilitates research that might otherwise be impossible.  To answer well, respondents must be honest, have insight into themselves, and understand the questions.  Self-report is an important tool in much behavioral research.

But, using self-report to answer a research question does have its limits. People may tend to answer in ways that make themselves look good (social desirability bias), agree with whatever is presented (social acquiescence bias), or answer in either extreme terms (extreme response set bias) or always pick the non-commital middle Hypothesisnumbers.  Another problem will occur if the reliability  and validity of the self-report questionnaire is not established.  (Reliability is consistency in measurement and validity is the accuracy of measuring what it purports to measure.) Additionally, self-reports typically provide only a)ordinal level data, such as on a 1-to-5 scale, b) nominal data, such as on a yes/no scale, or c) qualitative descriptions in words without categories or numbers.  (Ordinal data=scores are in order with some numbers higher than others, and nominal data = categories. Statistical calculations are limited for both and not possible for qualitative data unless the researcher counts themes or words that recur.)

Gold_BarsAn example of a self-report measure that we regard as a gold standard for clinical and research data = 0-10 pain scale score.   An example of a self-report measure that might be useful but less preferred is a self-assessment of knowledge (e.g., How strong on a 1-5 scale is your knowledge of arterial blood gas interpretation?)  The use of it for knowledge can be okay as long as everyone understands that it is perceived level of knowledge.

Critical Thinking: What was the research question in this study? Malaria et al. (2016) Pain assessment in elderly with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease as posted on PubMed.gov questionat http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26757042 with link to full text.  How did the authors use self-report to answer their research question?  Do you see any of the above strengths & weaknesses in their use?

For more information: Be sure to check out Rob Hoskins blog: http://www.sciencebrainwaves.com/the-dangers-of-self-report/

 

 

Is a Picture Worth 1,000 words?

Sometimes the best way to answer a research question is to have the participants draw pictures & explain them.  In fact, some have identified art as a powerful communication tool between children and researchers.   The pictures are then analyzed for themes that show up in the drawings.  No numbers or statistics are used.

Methods: When Brady (2009) wondered how children defined a “good nurse,” she asked 22 ethnically diverse, hospitalized girls and boys aged 7-12 years to draw a picture of a good nurse and a bad nurse.  After the children drew their pictures she asked them to tell her what the nurse was wearing and doing.

Results & discussion: What did the pictures say? Drawings and comments suggested that the children focused on these 5 thematic characteristics for a good nurse:  “communication; professional competence; safety; professional appearance; and virtues,” (p.543) such as honesty, listening, kindness, trustworthiness, & being reassuring & fun. 11-year-old Jason communicated some of it in GoodNurse_BadNurse2Figure 4 on page 552.   12-year-old Luke also showed a sharp contrast in Figure 7 on page 556 that is at the top of this blog.  Children valued a reciprocal relationship with their nurses, caring, and safe/professional behavior. Play was one of many things important to them.

Commentary: While the sample is not representative of a larger group and I would question the authors claim to use grounded theory, the study forms the basis for further research.  Additionally these ideas can help us listen more closely to our own pediatric patients.   It would be particularly interesting to compare these 5 themes to how adult patients of various ages describe a good nurse and a bad nurse.

Critical thinking:  How do you think these children’s perspectives compare with the perspectives of your own pediatric patient population?QUESTION

For more information: See Brady, M. (2009). Hospitalized children’s views of the good nurse, Nursing Ethics, 16(5). doi: 10.1177/0969733009106648

Don’t Just Wish Upon Falling Stars: Take Evidence-based Action

The Joint Commission (TJC) published, Preventing falls and fall-related injuries in health care facilities, a new Sentinel Alert #55 on September 28, 2015 at http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/SEA_55.pdf

What’s the problem? Falls with serious injuries are among the top 10 events reported to TJC.   Analysis of that data shows that contributing factors are related to:

  • Inadequate assessment
  • Communication failures
  • Lack of adherence to protocols and safety practices
  • Inadequate staff orientation, supervision, staffing levels or skill mix
  • Deficiencies in the physical environment
  • Lack of leadership (page 1)

What to do?   Here are TJC recommendationsAction Plan

  1. Raise awareness of falls resulting in injury
  2. Establish an interprofessional falls committee
  3. Use a reliable, valid risk assessment tool
  4. Use EBP
    1. Standardized handoff including risk for falls
    2. One-to-one, bedside education of patients (& families?)
  5. Conduct post-fall management, which includes: a post-fall huddle; a system of honest, transparent reporting; trending and analysis of falls which can inform improvement efforts; and reassess the patient (page 2)

questionCritical thinking:  How would you apply AHRQ toolkit: Preventing Falls in Hospitals to your unit.

Want more info?   For tools, resources, & more details on above, see Joint Commission (2015, September 28). Preventing falls and fall-related injuries in health care facilities, Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 55.  Retrieved from Joint http://www.jointcommission.org/assets/1/18/SEA_55.pdf

Does Data Drive you Dotty? Then watch this!

Does the very idea of looking at data make your eyes cross and set your teeth on edge?EyesCrossed

If so, I have the solution for you!!   And you DO need a solution because Data–>Information–>Best Practices.

You might be surprised that in less than 10 minutes John Hicks at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–r9_R60Jws will have you able to describe the basic approach to data.   He gives you 4 key steps & builds from there.HappyFaces

I promise: No eyes glazing over. No getting lost in numbers and calculations. No problem. Don’t worry; be happy.

LearningI can feel it.  Your research reading skills have gone up a notch!  (And for those of you who are masters of data & analysis, enjoy this link for teaching others.)

For more Info: Watch his great follow-up, short, & sweet videos for more on statistics.

CRITICAL THINKING: First watch the video above—click here if you didn’t yet do that. Second outline the 4 steps using the abstract below. Third, answer these questions: Are the data quantitative or qualitative? Are the data are continuous or discrete? Are the data are primary or secondary?

Anjdersson, E.K., Willman, A., Sjostrom-Strand, A. & Borglin, G. (2015). Registered nurses’ descriptions of caring: A phenomenographic interview study. BMC Nursing. doi: 10.1186/s12912-015-0067-9

“Background: Nursing has come a long way since the days of Florence Nightingale and even though no consensus exists it would seem reasonable to assume that caring still remains the inner core, the essence of nursing. In the light of the societal, contextual and political changes that have taken place during the 21st century, it is important to explore whether these might have influenced the essence of nursing. The aim of this study was to describe registered nurses’ conceptions of caring. Methods: A qualitative design with a phenomenographic approach was used. The interviews with twenty-one nurses took place between March and May 2013 and the transcripts were analysed inspired by Marton and Booth’s description of phenomenography. Results: The analysis mirrored four qualitatively different ways of understanding caring from the nurses’ perspective: caring as person-centredness, caring as safeguarding the patient’s best interests, caring as nursing interventions and caring as contextually intertwined.  Conclusion: The most comprehensive feature of the nurses’ collective understanding of caring was their recognition and acknowledgment of the person behind the patient, i.e. person-centredness. However, caring was described as being part of an intricate interplay in the care context, which has impacted on all the described conceptions of caring. Greater emphasis on the care context, i.e. the environment in which caring takes place, are warranted as this could mitigate the possibility that essential care is left unaddressed, thus contributing to better quality of care and safer patient care.” [quoted from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25834478]