Before a researcher begins a study, it is critical to decide on how to design the study. A study design is the overall strategy that a researcher uses to integrate the various components of the research in a manner that is more coherent and organized. According to Polit & Beck (2012), the importance of this is to effectively address the research questions and hence achieve the research objectives. Specifically, a design provides the framework for the collection of data, the measurement methods and the analysis of the data collected. Notably, a research design is informed by the research problem. This paper examines the research design that was deployed in the article Telehealth and hospitalizations for Medicare home healthcare patients. that was authored by Chen, Kalish & Pagan (2011). Specifically, the strengths as well as the weaknesses of the research design of the study will be analyzed. Additionally, this critique paper will evaluate whether the design employed effectively supports the purpose of the study.
What is the research design of the study?
This study deployed a Retrospective, non-experimental design in order to examine the effects that the use of properly coordinated telehealth monitoring system has on the probability of hospitalization within the first one month of discharge from the hospital (Chen, Kalish & Pagan, 2011). A non-experimental research is where the researcher does not manipulate the independent variables. In this case, the researcher makes a study of what has naturally occurred or what naturally occurs without the need to manipulate any of the independent variables. In this regard, the research will make a study of how the variables are related.
In the present case, the researchers used this study design, as the variables of the patients could not be manipulated as they were obtained from the private network of community-based home health agencies database. Patients were assigned into two groups namely; the telehealth and non-telehealth groups and their rates of hospitalization within the first 30 days of homecare after discharge were observed. In this regard, the researchers were evaluating whether the rate of hospitalization was related to the use of telehealth or not. Indeed, the study design used regression to rule out any other explanations for the hospitalizations or otherwise.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research design of the study?
The use of the non-experimental research has various benefits and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that the design has a high level of external validity. In this case, according to Cook (2015), it is easier for the non-experimental design to be generalized to a larger population. Additionally, the design is critical in cases where it is impossible to vary the predictor variable. In this regard, it will be difficult to use other types of designs where the predictor variable cannot be manipulated.
Despite the advantages named above, this design has several advantages that can be noted. One of the most critical is in its inability to the find cause and effect relationships. This comes about due to the inability of the researcher in non-experimental design to manipulate the predictor variable. Notably, there are three conditions that researchers must establish for them to conclude that one variable causes changes in another. The first one is that; one variable is related to another. Secondly, there is a need to establish a proper time order, and lastly, there should be lack of an alternative explanation (Creswell, 2013). However, in non-experimental research, it is difficult for the researcher to fulfill the second and third condition as they use logic and theory. Additionally, a disadvantage arises out of the existence of a third extraneous variable. Additionally, the researcher cannot manipulate the predictor variable.
Does the research design support the purpose of the study? Is it the strongest design for the purpose of the study? If yes, why? If no, what would be the strongest design and why?
The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of the use of telehealth on patients in the first 30 days of home care after discharge (Chen, Kalish & Pagan, 2011). The study design seeks to help achieve this objective. However, it does not adequately support the purpose of the study. In this regard, it is not easy to state whether the increase or decrease in hospitalizations have been caused by an integrated telehealth or otherwise. As a result, the design does not effectively support the research purpose.
This is not the strongest design for this purpose of the study. On the contrary, an experimental research would have been appropriate. The experimental design would properly support the study purpose, as the researcher would be able to manipulate the variables. Additionally, in the view of Creswell (2013), the cause and effect relationships would be found. In this regard, an experimental design would rule out any other explanation for the reduction or increase in the rates of hospitalizations. Indeed, this design would be most suited to present results that are more reliable and that offer a greater internal validity. More importantly, an experimental design would make a comparison between the controlled variables and the placebo.
Chen, H. F., Kalish, M. C., & Pagan, J. A. (2011). Telehealth and hospitalizations for Medicare home healthcare patients. The American journal of managed care, 17(6 Spec No.), e224-30.
Cook, T. D. (2015). QuasiExperimental Design. Wiley Encyclopedia of Management.
Creswell, J. W. (2013). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2012). Nursing Research: Generating and Assessing Evidence for Nursing Practice (9th eds.), Sampling in Quantitative Research (p. 294-295). NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
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