Quantitative research methods
In this unit of the Quantitative Methods module the following sessions will be covered:
- An approach to quantitative research – mainly revision
- The Seven Steps Approach to conducting an epidemiologic study, which is the approach we will be using to help you learn about quantitative research methods. The similarity between this approach and the quantitative research study protocol will be
- The concepts covered in Steps 1 – 3 that are covered in the Measuring Health and Disease module you have already completed are summarised – with some additional points – and include:
- Define the population of interest;
- Conceptualise and create measures of exposures and health indicators, and how these can be measured; and
- Take a sample of the population. A section on Sources of Data is also included.
An approach to quantitative research
Research is the systematic enquiry into nature and society leading to the development of new knowledge. It involves the systematic collection, processing, analysis and interpretation of data to answer a certain question or solve a problem.
- It demands a clear statement of the
- It requires clear objectives and a plan (it is not aimlessly looking for something in the hopes that you will come across a solution).
- It builds on existing data, using both positive and negative
- Basic research is necessary to generate new knowledge and technologies to deal with major unresolved health problems. It may not necessarily have immediate practical application. Basic biomedical research is often laboratory-based, and focusses on how the body works. The biological processes, structures, functions and mechanisms within an organism. Clinical research focuses on the response of the body to various preventative, diagnostic or therapeutic interventions.
- Applied research is necessary to identify priority problems and to design and evaluate policies and programmes that will deliver the greatest health benefits, making optimal use of available resources. Sometimes the problem has already been identified in society whether by the researcher, industry, the public or the government. Epidemiology is an applied science.
Epidemiological principles, which form the basis of most health research can be applied in three different ways:
- Epidemiology can be applied in clinical medicine at an individual patient level – usually called clinical epidemiology – looks at the efficacy of preventive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures and natural history of disease.
Public health research focuses on groups of people (populations). It has two main components:
- Epidemiological research, which considers the frequency, distribution and causes of ill health; and
- Health systems research, which focuses on the organised response to health and disease.