Sociology

LECTURE NOTES For Health Science Students Research Methodology Getu Degu Tegbar Yigzaw University of Gondar In collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter Center, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education 2006 Funded under USAID Cooperative Agreement No. 663-A-00-00-0358-00. Produced in collaboration with the Ethiopia Public Health Training Initiative, The Carter Center, the Ethiopia Ministry of Health, and the Ethiopia Ministry of Education.

Important Guidelines for Printing and Photocopying Limited permission is granted free of charge to print or photocopy all pages of this publication for educational, not-for-profit use by health care workers, students or faculty. All copies must retain all author credits and copyright notices included in the original document. Under no circumstances is it permissible to sell or distribute on a commercial basis, or to claim authorship of, copies of material reproduced from this publication. ©2006 by Getu Degu and Tegbar Yigzaw All rights reserved.

Except as expressly provided above, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the author or authors. This material is intended for educational use only by practicing health care workers or students and faculty in a health care field. PREFACE This lecture note on research methodology is primarily aimed at health science students.

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Chapter two gives the guidelines useful for the identification and selection of a research topic. The questions relating to whether a research problem is adequately analyzed and whether it is clearly stated are addressed in Chapter three. Chapters four and five deal with literature review and the development of research objectives, respectively. A special emphasis is given to Chapter six which is the Chapter that contains the many elements of the “Methods” section of a research proposal. Chapter seven deals with the development of a Work plan and the preparation of a budget for a given study.

A summary of the major components and outline of the different phases in a research process (proposal development, fieldwork and report writing) is given in Chapter eight. This Chapter presents the format that an investigator may follow when writing the final draft of his/her health research proposal. It also gives the guidelines for writing a report. The last chapter is devoted to giving a brief account of the definitions of common terms applied in computer use and the application of some statistical packages. A special emphasis is given to Epi6. In general, this lecture note tries to cover the three major components of a research process: development of the research proposal, fieldwork (data collection) and write-up of the scientific report. General learning objectives followed by introductory sections which are specific to each chapter are placed at the beginning of most of the chapters. The lecture note also includes a number of exercises for the students so that they can examine themselves whether they have understood the topic under consideration.

It is assumed that this lecture note on research methodology will be given to health science students who have taken basic Epidemiology and Biostatistics courses. It is also important to note that this lecture note focuses on quantitative research. When the point of discussion refers to qualitative research, it would be clearly shown so as to avoid the confusion that may arise. A few reference materials are given at the end of the lecture note for further reading. ii ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

We would like to thank the College of Medicine and Health Sciences (University of Gondar) for allowing us to use the resources of the institution while writing this lecture note. We are highly indebted to the Carter Center (Ethiopian Public Health Training Initiative) without whose support this material would have not been written. In particular, we are very grateful to Ato Aklilu Mulugeta (from the Carter center) for his uninterrupted follow up and encouragement. We would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Getnet Mitikie and Dr.

Mesganaw Fantahun of Addis Ababa University Associate and Assistant Professors respectively for their critical reviews and valuable comments on the initial draft of these teaching materials. . iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Preface …………………………………………………………………………………………. ……… i Acknowledgements ……………………………………………………………………….. ……. iii Table of Contents ………………………………………………………………….. ………. …… iv

Chapter 1: Introduction to research ………………………………………………. …….. 1 1. 1 Learning Objectives …………………………………………………….. …….. 1 1. 2 Introduction ……………………………………………………………….. …….. 1 1. 3 Definitions and characteristics of research ……………………… …… 2 1. 4 Types of research ………………………………………………………. …….. 2 1. 5 Health systems research ……………………………………………… …….. 5 1. Main components of any research work …………………………. …….. 7 1. 7 Exercises ………………………………………………………………….. …….. 7 Chapter 2: Topic Selection …………………………………………………………… …….. 8 2. 1 Learning Objectives …………………………………………………….. …….. 8 2. 2 Introduction ………………………………………………………………. …….. 8 2. 3 Problem identification ………………………………………………….. ……. 9 2. 4 Criteria for prioritizing problems for research ………………….. …… 10 2. 5 Exercises …………………………………………………………………… …… 13 Chapter 3: Analysis and Statement of the problem …………………………. …… 15 3. 1 Learning Objectives ……………………………………………………. …… 15 3. 2 Introduction ……………………………………………………………….. …… 15 3. 3 Analyzing the problem ………………………………………………… ….. 15 3. 4 Formulating the problem statement ……………………………….. …… 15 3. 5 Exercises …………………………………………………………………… …… 17 iv Chapter 4: Literature review ………………………………………………………….. …… 18 4. 1 Learning Objectives ………………………………………………………. ….. 18 4. 2 Introduction ………………………………………………………………….. …… 18 4. Uses of literature review ………………………………………………… …… 18 4. 4 Source of information ……………………………………………………. …… 18 4. 5 Organization of information on index cards ………………………. …… 19 4. 6 Exercises …………………………………………………………………….. …… 20 Chapter 5: Objectives …………………………………………………………………… …… 21 5. 1 Learning Objectives ………………………………………………………. ….. 21 5. 2 Introduction ………………………………………………………………….. …… 21 5. 3 Definitions ……………………………………………………………………. …… 21 5. 4 Formulation of the research objectives …………………………….. …… 22 5. 5 Exercises ……………………………………………………………………… …… 24 Chapter 6: Research methods ………………………………………………………. ….. 25 6. Learning Objectives …………………………………………………….. ….. 25 6. 2 Introduction ……………………………………………………………….. …… 25 6. 3 Types of study designs ………………………………………………… …… 25 6. 4 Study population ………………………………………………………… …… 33 6. 5 Variables …………………………………………………………………… …… 34 6. 6 Sampling …………………………………………………………………… ….. 40 6. 7 Sample size determination …………………………………………… …… 47 6. 8 Plan for data collection ………………………………………………… …… 51 6. 9 Methods of data collection ……………………………………………. …… 55 6. 10 Plan for data processing and analysis …………………………… …… 66 6. 11 Ethical considerations ……………………………………………….. …… 79 6. 12 Pretest or pilot study …………………………………………………. …… 82 6. 3 Exercises …………………………………………………………………. …… 83 Chapter 7: Work Plan Budget …………………………………………………………. ….. 85 v 7. 1 Work Plan ………………………………………………………………….. …… 85 7. 2 Budget ……………………………………………………………………… …… 87 Chapter 8: Major components and outline of the different phases in a research process ………………………………………………………………………… …. 89 8. 1 Summary of the major components of a research proposal . …… 89 8. 2 Fieldwork ………………………………………………………………….. …… 92 8. 3 Writing a research report …………………………………………….. …… 95 Chapter 9: Definition of common terms applied in computer use and application of some statistical packages ………………………. …. 101 9. 1 Introduction to a microcomputer …………………………………… … 101 9. 2 Introduction to some common software packages ………….. … 103 9. 3 Exporting data from Epi6 to Epi 2000 and SPSS ……………. …. 127 References …………………………………………………………………………………… …. 130 vi Research methodology CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION TO RESEARCH 1. 1 Learning Objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1. Define research in general and health systems research in particular 2. Enumerate the characteristics of research 3. Identify the different types of research 4. List the essential features of health systems research 5.

Describe the broad divisions (steps) involved in the research process 6. Explain the roles of research in development 1. 2 Introduction The ultimate goal of any national health-development process is to enable its people to reach a level of health that enables them to make meaningful participation in the social and economic life of the community in which they live. To attain this objective, countries should decide on the best approaches to adopt. However, this requires detailed and accurate information on the existing health systems of these countries.

Unfortunately, such information is often lacking , inadequate, or unreliable. As a result, decisions are based on assumptions and unjustified conclusions and often result in inappropriate policy choices. In this regard, the search for scientific knowledge and information should be strongly supported. Research in the context of public health thus aims to provide all aspects of information necessary for planning and the effective implementation of a health system. For all communities, whether affluent or poor, health research is the top priority.

The research questions are formidable: how to join with policy makers and communities in assessing priority needs, planning, financing and implementing programs, and evaluating them in terms of coverage, efficiency and effectiveness. 1 Research methodology 1. 3 Definition and characteristics of research Definition: Research is a scientific inquiry aimed at learning new facts, testing ideas, etc. It is the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data to generate new knowledge and answer a certain question or solve a problem.

Characteristics of research It demands a clear statement of the problem It requires a plan (it is not aimlessly “ looking” for something in the hope that you will come across a solution) It builds on existing data, using both positive and negative findings New data should be collected as required and be organized in such a way that they answer the research question(s) 1. 4 Types of research Research is a systematic search for information and new knowledge. It covers topics in every field of science and perceptions of its scope and activities are unlimited.

The classical broad divisions of research are: basic and applied research. The basic research is necessary to generate new knowledge and technologies to deal with major unresolved health problems. On the other hand, applied research is necessary to identify priority problems and to design and evaluate policies and programs that will deliver the greatest health benefit, making optimal use of available resources. Quantitative and Qualitative researches: Early forms of research originated in the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, geology etc. nd was concerned with investigating things which we could observe and measure in some way. Such observations and measurements can be made objectively and repeated by other researchers. This process is referred to as “quantitative” research. Much later, along came researchers working in the social sciences: psychology, sociology, anthropology etc. They were interested in studying human behaviour and the social world inhabited by human beings. They found increasing difficulty in trying to explain human behaviour in simply measurable terms.

Measurements tell us how often or how many people 2 Research methodology behave in a certain way but they do not adequately answer the “why” and “how” questions. Research which attempts to increase our understanding of why things are the way they are in our social world and why people act the ways they do is “qualitative” research. Qualitative research is concerned with developing explanations of social phenomena. That is to say, it aims to help us to understand the world in which we live and why things are the way they are.

It is concerned with the social aspects of our world and seeks to answer questions about: • Why people behave the way they do • How opinions and attitudes are formed • How people are affected by the events that go on around them • How and why cultures have developed in the way they have Qualitative research is concerned with finding the answers to questions which begin with: why? How? In what way? Quantitative research, on the other hand, is more concerned with questions about: how much? How many? How often?

To what extent? etc. Public health problems are complex, not only because of their multicausality but also as a result of new and emerging domestic and international health problems. Social, economic, political, ethnic, environmental, and genetic factors all are associated with today’s public health concerns. Consequently, public health practitioners and researchers recognize the need for multiple approaches to understanding problems and developing effective interventions that address contemporary public health issues.

Qualitative methods fill a gap in the public health toolbox; they help us understand behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and culture in a way that quantitative methods alone cannot. For all these reasons, qualitative methods are getting renewed attention and gaining new respect in public health. A thorough description of qualitative research is beyond the scope of this lecture note. Students interested to know more about qualitative methods could consult other books which are primarily written for that purpose.

The main purpose of this lecture note is to give a detailed account on the principles of quantitative research. 3 Research methodology Health research Health research is the application of principles of research on health. It is the generation of new knowledge using scientific method to identify and deal with health problems. Knowledge, both generalizable worldwide and locally specific, is essential to effective action for health. Worldwide knowledge is the basis on which new tools, strategies, and approaches are devised that are applicable to health problems facing many countries.

Local knowledge, specific to the particular circumstances of each country can inform decision regarding which health problems are important, what measures should be applied and how to obtain the greatest health benefit from existing tools and limited resources. In this regard, health research is both global and local in nature. In most cases, health research has been divided into three overlapping groups. Essential health research: Consists of activities to define the health problems of a given country or community, to measure their importance and to assure the quality of activities to deal with them. Much f this research comes within the category of health service research but there will be elements of clinical research and development of technology, depending on the situation. The information, which may be obtained in a number of ways, is essential and specific to each country for planning and monitoring health services. Some of the research conclusions, however, may be generalized and applicable to other areas. Clinical research: In its widest sense, this group of topics ranges from studies of the prevention and diagnosis of diseases through new methods of treatment to problems of care and rehabilitation.

The sophistication will vary from problem to problem and there will be overlap with the fields of essential and biomedical research. Some of the research will be mainly of local importance; much will be useful for other individuals in other countries. Examples research. include clinical trials of disease prevention and the design of new chemotherapeutic agents. Wherever clinical facilities exist, there is a potential for clinical 4 Research methodology Biomedical research: It is the most basic part of health research which demands more resources, facilities and skilled investigators.

The results of biomedical research are more often of universal importance and thus of general significance. During the past two decades, concepts and research approaches to support health development have evolved rapidly. Many of these have been described by specific terms such as operations research, health services research, health manpower research, policy and economic analysis and decision-linked research. Each of these has made crucial contributions to the development of health research. 1. 5 Health systems research

It is a component of health research. Research that supports health development has come to be known as Health Systems Research. It is ultimately concerned with improving the health of a community, by enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the health system as an integral part of the overall process of socioeconomic development. Definition of “health system” A health system may be described as: A set of cultural beliefs about health and illness that forms the basis for health-seeking and health-promoting behaviour.

The institutional arrangements within which that behaviour occurs; and The socioeconomic (political) physical context for those beliefs and institutions. In short, it consists of what people believe and know about health and illness and what they do to remain healthy and cure diseases. Beliefs and action are usually closely connected. For example, if in a society people perceive germs as the cause of disease, they will look for modern (biomedical) health care.

The institutional arrangements within which the health-seeking and health-promoting behaviour occurs may include: 5 Research methodology 1. The individual, family and the community 2. Health care services private sector: traditional and modern medical practice (legal or illegal) Public (governmental) sector Health workers, health institutions, etc. 3. Health related sectors education, agriculture, etc. 4. The international sector, including bilateral and multilateral donor agencies (UNICEF, WHO, etc. that may support health as well as Essential Features of Health Systems Research (HSR) Bearing in mind that HSR is undertaken primarily to provide information to support decision-making at all levels that can improve the functioning of the health system, some of the essential features are summarized as follows: • • • • • • HSR should focus on priority problems. It should be action oriented (i. e. , aimed at developing solutions) An integrated multidisciplinary approach is required (research approaches from many disciplines) The research should be articipatory in nature (from policy makers to community members) Research must be timely. Emphasis should be placed on comparatively simple, short-term research designs that are likely to yield practical results. 1. The principle of cost-effectiveness is important in the selection of research projects. • Results should be presented in formats most useful for administrators, decisionmakers and the community. – A clear presentation of results with a summary of the major findings adapted to the interests of the party being targeted by the report. 6 Research methodology –

Honest discussion of practical or methodological problems that could have affected the findings. Alternative courses of action that could follow from the results and the advantages and drawbacks of each. 9. Evaluation of the research undertaken – An HSR project should not stop at finding answers to the research questions posed, but include an assessment of what decisions have been made based on the results of the study. This is the ability of research findings to influence policy, improve services and contribution to the betterment of health. 1. 6 Main components of any research work I.

Preparing a research proposal II. Fieldwork (i. e. , data collection) III. Analyzing data and preparing a research report N. B. The roles of health managers and the community should be identified in the various phases of the research process. 1. 7 Exercises 1. The health of any community depends on the interaction and balance between the health needs of the community, the health resources that are available, and the selection and application of health and health related interventions. Discuss! 2. To invest in research is to invest for a better future. Does this statement sound true? Justify your answer. . Describe the characteristics of HSR by giving your own examples. 7 Research methodology CHAPTER TWO TOPIC SELECTION 2. 1 Learning objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1. Examine the cyclical nature of the development of a research proposal 2. Describe the principles underlying whether a problem situation is researchable. 3. List the criteria for selecting a research topic. 4. Identify and select his/her own topic (health problem) for research based on certain guidelines. 2. 2 Introduction The development of a health project goes through a number of stages.

Formulation of the research proposal is the major task in the process of developing a research project. The proposal draws on all the preparatory steps of the research process and pulls them together in a document describing the rationale and the methodology proposed for research. The proposal is a basis for approval and funding. After approval, the proposal is used as a blueprint during implementation of the project. It should be noted that development of a research proposal is often a cyclical process. The process is not always linear. It is a usual practice to go up and down on the developed proposal and make the necessary revisions.

Is there evidence to indicate that the research proposal focuses on a problem of priority importance? Was the given health problem identified by relevant groups of the health system? Was the problem adequately analysed to include all possible contributory factors from different sectors? Was it clearly stated? These questions should be clearly answered before trying to develop the research proposal. The sections that follow are devoted to giving the guidelines useful for identification, selection, analysis and statement of the given problem. 8 Research methodology 2. 3 Problem identification

If the answer to the research question is obvious, we are dealing with a management problem that may be solved without further research. A number of research questions could be presented that may be posed at the various levels of the health system. Whether a problem requires research depends on three conditions: I) There should be a perceived difference or discrepancy between what it is and what it should be; II) The reason(s) for this difference should be unclear (so that it makes sense to develop a research question); and III) There should be more than one possible and plausible answer to the question (or solution to the problem). xample1: Problem situation: In district “ Y “ a report showed that in the first month there were 500 children under one year old who started immunization, but at the end of the year it was found out that there were only 25 children who completed their vaccination. Discrepancy: All the 500 children at district “Y “should have completed their vaccination but only 5% out of those who started vaccination have completed. Problem (research) question: why only 5% of the children completed their vaccination?

Definite answer: Out of the 1 hospital, 2 health centers and 10 health stations found in district “Y” only 2 health stations were functioning, the rest were closed due to insecurity in the area. In the above example, assuming that all the given facts are true, there is no need of undertaking a research, since definite answer is obtained to the problem situation. 9 Research methodology Example 2: Problem situation: In district “Z” (population 150,000) there are 2 health centers, 1 hospital and 15 health stations and all of them function smoothly. However, at the end of the year it was found that the EPI coverage was only 25%.

Discrepancy: Although district “Z” had 100% availability of health services and at least 80% of the children should have had full vaccinations the EPI coverage was only 25% as seen above. Problem question: What factors influence the low EPI coverage in district “Z”? Possible answers: • • Mothers might have problems for not attending in the EPI sessions. The MCH, EPI, OPD, CDD, etc… programmes might not have been integrated; hence children might have missed opportunities in getting immunization. • The follow up of defaulting children might not be effective and other reasons.

Thus, the above problem situation is researchable. 2. 4 Criteria for prioritizing problems for research Each problem that is proposed for research has to be judged according to certain guidelines or criteria. There may be several ideas to choose from. Before deciding on a research topic, each proposed topic must be compared with all other options. The selection and analysis of the problem for research should involve those who are responsible for the health status of the community. This would include managers in the health services, health-care workers, and community leaders, as well as researchers. 0 Research methodology The guidelines or criteria given below can help in the process of selection. a) Criteria for selecting a research topic 1. Relevance: The topic you choose should be a priority problem: Questions to be asked include: How large or widespread is the problem? Who is affected? How severe is the problem? 2. Avoidance of duplication: Investigate whether the topic has been researched. If the topic has been researched, the results should be reviewed to explore whether major questions that deserve further investigation remain unanswered. If not, another topic should be chosen. 3.

Feasibility: Consider the complexity of the problem and the resources you will require to carry out the study. Thought should be given first to personnel, time, equipment and money that are locally available. In situations where the local resources necessary to carry out the project are not sufficient, you might consider sources available at the national level. 4. Political acceptability: It is advisable to research a topic that has the interest and support of the authorities. This will facilitate the smooth conduct of the research and increases the chance that the results of the study will be implemented. . Applicability of possible results and recommendations Is it likely that the recommendations from the study will be applied? This will depend not only on the blessing of the authorities but also on the availability of resources for implementing the recommendations. 11 Research methodology 6. Urgency of data needed How urgently are the results needed for making a decision? Which research should be done first and which can be done late? 7. Ethical acceptability We should always consider the possibility that we may inflict harm on others while carrying out research.

Therefore, it will be useful to review the proposed study. b) Scales for rating research topics Relevance 1 = Not relevant 2 = Relevant 3 = very relevant Avoidance of duplication 1 = Sufficient information already available 2 = Some information available but major issues not covered 3 = No sound information available on which to base problem-solving Feasibility 1 = Study not feasible considering available resources 2 = Study feasible considering available resources 3 = Study very feasible considering available resources Political acceptability = Topic not acceptable 2 = Topic somewhat acceptable 3 = Topic fully acceptable Applicability 1 = No chance of recommendations being implemented 2 = Some chance of recommendations being implemented 3 = Good chance of recommendations being implemented 12 Research methodology Urgency 1 = Information not urgently needed 2 = Information could be used but a delay of some months would be acceptable 3 = Data very urgently needed for decision-making Ethical acceptability 1 = Major ethical problems 2 = Minor ethical problems 3 = No ethical problems N. B.

The above rating should be based on the existing data and not on mere assumptions. Exercises 1. In a certain district (population, 150,000), sanitary conditions are very poor (only 5% of households have latrines) and diseases connected with poor sanitation, such as, gastroenteritis and worms are very common. The Ministry of Health has initiated a sanitation project that aims at increasing the number of households with latrines by 20% each year. The project provides materials and the population should provide labour. Two years later, less than half of the target has been reached.

State the discrepancy, research question and the possible answers. Is this problem situation researchable? 2. Go to the nearby health institution and identify three health problems. Discuss about these health problems and rate them based on the selection criteria. When rating these problems based on the criteria, use the rating scale indicated at the bottom of the table (you can also refer to the “Scales for rating research topics” presented in section 2. 4b). You can do the exercise in small groups. Which topic do you select for research?

Defend your first choice in a plenary session. 13 Research methodology Rating Sheet Criteria for selecting a research topic Relevance Avoidance of duplication Proposed topic Health problem I Health problem II Health problem III Feasibility Political acceptability Applicability Urgency of data needed Ethical acceptability Total Rating scale: 1 = low, 2 = medium, 3 = high 14 Research methodology CHAPTER THREE ANALYSIS AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM 3. 1 Learning objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1.

Describe the advantages of a systematic analysis of a problem 2. Describe the importance of a clear statement of a problem 3. Enumerate the points that should be included in the statement of a problem 3. 2 Introduction Was the problem adequately analysed to include all possible contributory factors from different sectors? Was it clearly stated? These questions should be clearly answered before trying to develop the research proposal. The sections that follow are devoted to giving the principles useful for the analysis and statement of the given problem. 3. 3 Analyzing the problem

A systematic analysis of the problem, completed jointly by the researchers, health workers, managers, and community representatives is a very crucial step in designing the research because it: • • • Enables those concerned to bring together their knowledge of the problem, Clarifies the problem and the possible factors that may be contributing to it, Facilitates decisions concerning the focus and scope of the research. 3. 4 Formulating the problem statement After identifying, selecting and analyzing the problem, the next major section in a research proposal is “statement of the problem” 5 Research methodology a) Why is it important to state and define the problem well? Because a clear statement of the problem: Is the foundation for the further development of the research proposal (research objectives, methodology, work plan, etc); Makes it easier to find information and reports of similar studies from which your own study design can benefit; Enables the researcher to systematically point out why the proposed research on the problem should be undertaken and what you hope to achieve with the study results. ) Points that need to be considered for justifying the selected research problem A health problem selected to be studied has to be justified in terms of its: Being a current and existing problem which needs solution Being a widely spread problem affecting a target population Effects on the health service programmes Being a problem which concerns the planners, policy makers and the communities at large. c) Information included in the statement of a problem • A brief description of socioeconomic and cultural characteristics and an overview of health status. A more detailed description of the nature of the problem – basic description of the research problem – the discrepancy between what is and what should be – its size, distribution, and severity (who is affected, where, since when, etc. ) 16 Research methodology • An analysis of the major factors that may influence the problem and a convincing argument that available knowledge is insufficient to answer a certain question and to update the previous knowledge. • A brief description of any solutions that have been tried in the past, how well they have worked, and why further research is needed. •

A description of the type of information expected to result from the project and how this information will be used to help solve the problem • If necessary, a short list of definitions of crucial concepts used in the statement of the problem. A list of abbreviations may be annexed to the proposal, but each abbreviation also has to be written out in full when introduced in the text the first time. 3. 5 Exercises 1. Why do we need to analyze the research problem? 2. What are the points required to justify the selected research problem? 3. What information should be included in the statement of a problem? 17

Research methodology CHAPTER FOUR LITERATURE REVIEW 4. 1 Learning objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1. 2. 3. Describe the reasons for reviewing available literature and other information during the preparation of a research proposal. Describe the resources that are available for carrying out such a review. Record (organize) information obtained from literature on an index card. 4. 2 Introduction At the outset of his/her study the investigator should be acquainted with the relevant literature. It is of minimal use to wait until a report is written. 4. 3 Use of literature review • It prevents you from duplicating work that has been done before. It increases your knowledge on the problem you want to study and this may assist you in refining your “statement of the problem”. • • It gives you confidence why your particular research project is needed. To be familiar with different research methods 4. 4 Sources of information Card catalogues of books in libraries Organizations (institutions) Published information (books, journals, etc. ) Unpublished documents (studies in related fields, reports, etc. ) Computer based literature searches such as Medline Opinions, beliefs of key persons 8 Research methodology Some examples of resources where information could be obtained are: Clinic and hospital based data from routine activity statistics Local surveys, annual reports Scientific conferences Statistics issued at region and district levels Articles from national and international journals (e. g. , The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, The Ethiopian Medical Journal, The East African Medical journal, The Lancet, etc. ) Internet Documentation, reports, and raw data from the Ministry of Health, Central Statistical Offices, Nongovernmental organizations, etc.

References that are identified: Should first be skimmed or read Then summaries of the important information in each of the references may be recorded on separate index cards These should then be classified so that the information can easily be retrieved 4. 5 Organization of information on index cards The index cards should contain: • • • • Key words A summary of the contents of books or articles which is relevant to one’s own study A brief analysis of the content, with comments such as: – how information from that particular study could be used in one’s own study Information obtained from key persons could also be summarized on the index card

After collecting the required information on index cards, the investigator should decide in which order he/she wants to discuss previous research findings: – from global to local – from broader to focused 19 Research methodology – from past to current In conclusion, while reviewing a literature, all what is known about the study topic should be summarized with the relevant references. This review should answer How much is known? What is not known? What should be done based on what is lacking? Overall, the literature review should be adequate, relevant and critical.

In addition to this, appropriate referencing procedures should always be followed in research proposals as well as in research reports. While reviewing a literature give emphasis to both positive and negative findings and avoid any distortion of information to suit your own study objectives. Finally, after an exhaustive literature review, summarize the findings and write a coherent discussion by indicating the research gap which supports the undertaking of your study. 4. 6 Exercises 1. Why is literature review important when preparing a proposal? 2.

The presentation of research results or scientific publications from other writers without quoting the author is not appropriate. Does this statement sound true? Justify your answer. 3. Mention some of the sources of information in your area and describe how such information could be summarized on index cards. 20 Research methodology CHAPTER FIVE OBJECTIVES 5. 1 Learning objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1. Describe the need for the development of research objectives 2. Differentiate between general and specific objectives 3.

Formulate specific objectives and hypotheses 5. 2 Introduction Having decided what to study, and knowing why s/he wants to study it, the investigator can now formulate his study objectives. Objectives should be closely related to the statement of the problem. For example, if the problem identified is low utilization of health stations in a rural district, the general objective of the study could be to assess the reasons for this low utilization. If we break down this general objective into smaller and logically connected parts, then we get specific objectives. 5. 3 Definitions

General objectives: aim of the study in general terms Example: In a study on missed opportunities for EPI in Addis Ababa the general objective was: “to assess missed opportunities for EPI in Addis Ababa”. Specific objectives: measurable statements on the specific questions to be answered. Unlike the general objectives, the specific objectives are more specific and are related to the research problem situation. They indicate the variable to be examined and measured. Example: In the study of missed opportunity for EPI in Addis Ababa the specific objectives could be: 21 Research methodology

To find out the magnitude of missed opportunities for children who attend OPD, MCH, CDD, etc. in Addis Ababa, To examine the reasons for children not being immunized while attending the OPD, MCH, CDD, etc. services. 5. 4 Formulation of the research objectives The formulation of objectives will help us to: • • • Focus the study (narrowing it down to essentials) Avoid collection of data that are not strictly necessary for understanding and solving the identified problem Organize the study in clearly defined parts The explicit formulation of study objectives is an essential step in the planning of a study.

It is said that “a question well-stated is a question half-answered”, but a question that is poorly stated or unstated is unlikely to be answered at all. How should we state our objectives? We have to make sure that our objectives: • • • • • Cover the different aspects of the problem and its contributing factors in a coherent way and in a logical sequence Are clearly expressed in measurable terms Are realistic considering local conditions Meet the purpose of the study Use action verbs that are specific enough to be measured Examples of action verbs are: – to determine – to compare – to verify 22 Research methodology to calculate – to describe – to find out – to establish Avoid the use of vague non-action verbs such as; – to appreciate – to understand – to study – to believe Research objectives can be stated as: • • • Questions – the objectives of this study are to answer the following questions …. Positive sentence – the objectives of this study are to find out, to establish, to determine, … Hypothesis – the objective of this study is to verify the following hypothesis (examples are given below) Based on the type of the study problem, it might be possible to develop explanations for the problem that can be tested.

If so, we can formulate hypotheses in addition to the other study objectives. A hypothesis is a prediction of a relationship between one or more variables and the problem under study. That is, It specifies the relationship among variables. These variables are to be statistically tested at a later stage. In order to measure the relationship among variables to be studied the dependent and independent variables need to be identified. A few examples are given below: 1. 2. The health of children living in rural villagization projects is better than those living in traditional rural communities.

To examine whether there is any significant difference between district “A” and district “B” with respect to their malaria prevalence rates 23 Research methodology 3. An increase in the frequency of face washing is followed by a reduction in trachoma prevalence One of the most important problems usually observed among students is the tendency of stating too many study objectives which are not appropriately addressed (or sometimes will be forgotten) in the sections that follow. It should be noted that it is on the bases of these specific objectives that the methods, results and discussion sections will be presented.

For example, sample size calculations for each stated objective and identifying (selecting) the most appropriate sample size that will answer the required research questions is not covered in the development of most research proposals. This is also true during the write up of the completed research work. It is not uncommon to come across a situation in which some of the specific objectives are not addressed in the results section at all. It is therefore advisable to limit the number of specific objectives. In most practical situations, the number of specific objectives should not exceed hree. 5. 5 Exercises 1. Define general objectives, specific objectives and hypotheses by giving your own examples. 2. The objectives of a study should be written after the statement of the research problem and before the methods section. Does this statement sound true? Justify your answer. 3. List the characteristics of research objectives. 4. Comment on the statement: “A question well-stated is a question half-answered”. 5. Mention some of the problems that may arise as a result of having too many objectives. 24 Research methodology CHAPTER SIX RESEARCH METHODS 6. Learning objectives After completing this chapter, the student should be able to: 1. Identify the pertinent questions to consider when developing the methodology of a research proposal 2. Describe and understand the various components of the methods section in a research proposal 3. Explain the cyclical nature of the different steps in designing the methodology. 6. 2 Introduction In the previous chapters we have dealt with the identification, selection, analysis and statement of the problem. The importance of literature review and formulation of study objectives were also emphasized.

Now we must decide exactly how we are going to achieve our stated objectives. That is, what new data do we need to shed light on the problem we have selected and how we are going to collect and process these data. The major issues that constitute the “methods section” of a research proposal will be dealt in the sections that follow. 6. 3 Types of study designs A study design is the process that guides researchers on how to collect, analyze and interpret observations. It is a logical model that guides the investigator in the various stages of the research.

Several classifications of study types are possible, depending on what research strategies are used. 1. Non-intervention (Observational) studies in which the researcher just observes and analyses researchable objects or situations but does not intervene; and 25 Research methodology 2. Intervention studies in which the researcher manipulates objects or situations and measures the outcome of his manipulations (e. g. , by implementing intensive health education and measuring the improvement in immunisation rates. ) Study designs could be exploratory, descriptive or analytical 1.

Exploratory studies An exploratory study is a small-scale study of relatively short duration, which is carried out when little is known about a situation or a problem. It may include description as well as comparison. For example: A national AIDS Control Programme wishes to establish counseling services for HIV positive and AIDS patients, but lacks information on specific needs patients have for support. To explore these needs, a number of in-depth interviews are held with various categories of patients (males, females, married and single) and with some counselors working on a programme that is already under way.

When doing exploratory studies we describe the needs of various categories of patients and the possibilities for action. We may want to go further and try to explain the differences we observe (e. g. , in the needs of male and female AIDS patients) or to identify causes of problems. Then we will need to compare groups. If the problem and its contributing factors are not well defined it is always advisable to do an exploratory study before embarking on a large-scale descriptive or comparative study. 2.

Descriptive studies: Descriptive studies may be defined as studies that describe the patterns of disease occurrence and other health-related conditions by person place and time. 26 Research methodology Personal variables include: basic demographic factors, such as age, sex marital status or occupation, as well as the consumption of various types of food or medication use. Characteristics of place refer to the geographic distribution of disease, including variation among countries or within countries, such as between urban and rural areas. With regard to time, descriptive studies may examine seasonal patterns in disease onset, etc.

Uses of descriptive studies They can be done fairly quickly and easily. Allow planners and administrators to allocate resources Provide the first important clues about possible determinants of a disease (useful for the formulation of hypotheses) Types of descriptive studies a) Case reports and case series Case report: a careful, detailed report by one or more clinicians of the profile of a single patient. The individual case report can be expanded to a case series, which describes characteristics of a number of patients with a given disease. Uses

Important link between clinical medicine and epidemiology One of the first steps in outbreak investigation Often useful for hypothesis generating and examining new diseases, but conclusions about etiology cannot be made. b) Ecological studies: data from entire populations are used to compare disease frequencies between different groups during the same period of time or in the same population at different points in time. 27 Research methodology Example: Countries with low cigarette consumption have lower lung cancer rates than those countries with high cigarette consumption.

Ecological studies are usually quick and easy to do and can be done with already available information. Since ecological studies refer to whole populations rather than to individuals, it is not possible to link an exposure to occurrence of disease in the same person. c) Cross-sectional studies A cross-sectional (prevalence) study provides information concerning the situation at a given time. In this type of study, the status of an individual with respect to the presence or absence of both exposure and disease is assessed at the same point in time.

Usually involve collection of new data. In general, measure prevalence rather than incidence Not good for studying rare diseases or diseases with short duration; also not ideal for studying rare exposures. For factors that remain unaltered over time, such as sex, blood group, etc. , the crosssectional survey can provide evidence of a valid statistical association. As can be noted from the above explanation, a cross-sectional study can be either analytical or descriptive, according to its purpose.

If data are collected both on exposures and outcomes of interest, and if the data are analysed so as to demonstrate differences either between exposed and non-exposed groups, with respect to the outcome, or between those with the outcome and those without the outcome, with respect to the exposure, then this is an analytical cross-sectional study. If the information collected is purely of a descriptive nature, not involving the comparison of groups formed on the basis of exposure or outcome status, then this is a descriptive cross-sectional study.

Often a cross-sectional study may have both descriptive and analytical components. Nowadays, there is an increasing emphasis on the value of longitudinal studies in which observations are repeated in the same community over a prolonged period (i. e. , longitudinal 28 Research methodology studies provide the required data at more than one point in time unlike cross- sectional surveys). II. Analytic studies Analytic studies may be defined as studies used to test hypotheses concerning the relationship between a suspected risk factor and an outcome and to measure the magnitude of the association and its statistical significance.

Analytic study designs can be divided into two broad design strategies: Observational and intervention. Observational studies No human intervention involved in assigning study groups; simply observe the relationship between exposure and disease. Subject to many potential biases, but by careful design and analysis, many of these biases can be minimized. Examples of observational studies: comparative cross-sectional, cohort and casecontrol studies. a) Comparative cross-sectional studies: Depending on the purpose of a given study, a cross-sectional survey could have an analytical component (see section 6. , 2c, above). b) Cohort studies: Study groups identified by exposure status prior to ascertainment of their disease status and both exposed and unexposed groups followed in identical manner until they develop the disease under study, they die, the study ends, or they are lost to followup. 29 Research methodology Strengths and limitations of the cohort study design Strengths: Is of particular value when the exposure is rare Can examine multiple effects of a single exposure Allows direct measurement of incidence of disease in the exposed and non-exposed groups. Limitations:

Is inefficient for the evaluation of rare diseases Expensive and time consuming Validity of the results can be seriously affected by losses to follow-up. c) Case-control studies: Group of subjects with the disease (cases) and group of subjects without the disease (controls) are identified. Information, about previous exposures are obtained for cases and controls, and frequency of exposure compared for the two groups. Strengths and limitations of the case-control study design Strengths: Is relatively quick and inexpensive Is optimal for the evaluation of rare diseases. Can examine multiple etiologic factors for a single disease.

Limitations: Is inefficient for the evaluation of rare exposures Cannot directly compute incidence rates of disease in exposed and non- exposed individuals. Is particularly prone to bias compared with other analytic designs, in particular, selection and recall bias. 30 Research methodology Intervention studies In intervention studies, the researcher manipulates a situation and measures the effects of this manipulation. Usually (but not always) two groups are compared, one group in which the intervention takes place (e. g. treatment with a certain drug) and another group that remains ‘untouched’ (e. g. reatment with a placebo). The two categories of intervention studies are: • • experimental studies and quasi-experimental studies 1. Experimental studies An experimental design is a study design that gives the most reliable proof for causation. In an experimental study, individuals are randomly allocated to at least two groups. One group is subject to an intervention, or experiment, while the other group(s) is not. The outcome of the intervention (effect of the intervention on the dependent variable/problem) is obtained by comparing the two groups. A number of experimental study designs have been developed.

These are widely used in laboratory settings and in clinical settings. For ethical reasons, the opportunities for experiments involving human subjects are restricted. However, randomised control trials of new drugs are common. At community level, where health research is frequently undertaken, we experience not only ethical but also practical problems in carrying out experimental studies. In real life settings, it is often impossible to assign persons at random to two groups, or to maintain a control group. Therefore, experimental research designs may have to be replaced by quasi-experimental designs. . Quasi-experimental studies In a quasi-experimental study, one characteristic of a true experiment is missing, either randomisation or the use of a separate control group. A quasi-experimental study, however, always includes the manipulation of an independent variable which is the intervention. 31 Research methodology One of the most common quasi-experimental designs uses two (or more) groups, one of which serves as a control group in which no intervention takes place. Both groups are observed before as well as after the intervention, to test if the intervention has made any difference. This quasi-experimental design is called the ‘non-equivalent control group design’ because the subjects in the two groups (study and control groups) have not been randomly assigned. ) Another type of design that is often chosen because it is quite easy to set up uses only one group in which an intervention is carried out. The situation is analysed before and after the intervention to test if there is any difference in the observed problem. This is called a ‘BEFORE-AFTER’ study. This design is considered a ‘pre-experimental’ design rather than a quasi-experimental’ design because it involves neither randomisation nor the use of a control group. Intervention (experimental) studies can also be considered either therapeutic or preventive. Therapeutic trials are conducted among patients with a particular disease to determine the ability of an agent or procedure to diminish symptoms, prevent recurrence, or decrease risk of death from that disease. A preventive trial (community trial) involves the evaluation of whether an agent or procedure reduces the risk of developing disease among those free from that condition at enrolment.

Thus, preventive trials can be conducted among individuals at usual risk (e. g. vaccine trials) A particular research question may be addressed using different approaches. The choice of study design for investigation is influenced by: Particular features of the exposure and disease. Logistic considerations of available resources. Results from previous studies and gaps in knowledge that remain to be filled. Ingenuity and creativity of the researcher 32 Research methodology Summary Individuals . case reports Descriptive studies . case series . cross-sectional Populations . cological (correlational) . comparative cross-sectional Analytic studies observational studies . case- control . cohort Experimental studies . therapeutic trials . preventive trials 6. 4 Study population At an early stage in the planning of any investigation decisions must be made concerning the study population. That is, concerning the population of individual units (whether they are persons, households, etc. ) to be investigated. The population under consideration should be clearly and explicitly defined in terms of place, time, and other relevant criteria.

If the study population comprises cases of a disease the procedures to be used for case identification should be stated. If controls are to be chosen their method of selection should be stated. Often the investigator will have implicitly chosen his study population when he defined the topic of his investigation, by reason of his interest in a specific community or a specific health program. In other instances, particularly when an analytic survey or an experiment is being planned, the investigator may require purposively to select a study population. In so doing he must consider questions of appropriateness and practicability. 3 Research methodology The appropriateness of the study population refers to its suitability for the attainment of the objectives of the study. The selection of study population on the basis of suitability usually affects the validity of subsequent generalizations from the findings. This situation requires a close attention at the early stage of the given study. Two examples are given below. a) Volunteer populations: Persons who volunteer to enter a study may differ in many respects from those who do not so volunteer, and therefore the findings in a volunteer population do not necessarily apply to the population at large. ) Hospital or clinic populations: Persons receiving medical care are obviously not representative of the general population from which they have come from. That is, persons treated in hospital for a certain disease may differ from those patients with the same disease but not receiving care for it. Practical questions such as the following could also arise. Is the proposed population the one that would give the required information? Will the population cooperate to participate in the study, or will it be a ‘resistant’ one?

If it is proposed to study patients with a specific disease, will it be possible to identify enough cases to yield useful conclusions? If a long term ‘follow up’ study is planned, is the population so mobile that it may be difficult to maintain contact with the subjects? A preliminary exploratory study may sometimes be required in order to answer such questions. 6. 5 Operational Definitions of Variables Before we directly go to the operational definition of variables it would be important to discuss about the nature of variables first.

Definition: A variable is a characteristic of a person, object, or phenomenon that can take on different values. 34 Research methodology A simple example of a variable is a person’s age. The variable can take on different values, such as, 20 years old, 30 years old, and so on. Other examples of variables are: a) weight in kilograms b) height in centimeters c) monthly income in Birr d) marital status (single, married, divorced and widowed) e) job satisfaction index (1 to 5) f) occupation (civil servant, farmer, student, et. g) disease condition (presence or absence

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