Overview of the Study, title and abstract/Global issues
The quantitative article being critiqued is titled, "A Survey of Hospices' Use of Complementary Therapy" by Alice Running, Jean Shreffler-Grant, and Wendy Andrews. It was published in the 2008 Journal of Hospice and Palliative Nursing. The title of this article is not well written. The title of the study does not convey what the researchers intended to study. This is because the key variables or phenomenon of the study are not easily identifiable. However, because this was a descriptive research study, failure of the researcher to explicitly identify the variables is justified. According to Schmidt (2011), there is no need to use the terms independent variable and dependent variable in descriptive designs because there is no manipulation of variables or attempts to determine cause-effect relationships. Additionally, the title of the study does not explicitly state the population being studied. Overall, the title is missing one key feature of a good title: the study population (Polit & Beck, 2010, pg. 99).
Polit and Beck (2010, pg. 99) also stated that a good abstract should be clear and concise. That is, it should contain a summary of the key parts of the article (problem, methods, results, conclusions). In Running, Shreffler-Grant, and Andrews (2008), the aims of the study, the methods, and the results of the study are well-stated. The aims of the current study included identification of complementary therapy services that are available to and provided for clients that received hospice care in Nevada and Montana. Another aim of the study was the identification of the differences in therapies given to urban and rural hospice clients. Additionally, the methods of the study were explicitly stated in the abstract. The researchers utilized descriptive survey design to address the aims of the study while data collection was conducted using surveys.
Moreover, the researchers stated that the participants comprised of hospice administrators. Furthermore, the results and the conclusions of the study were clearly stated. The researchers established that majority of the hospices provided complementary therapy. The authors further reported that there are no differences exist between rural and urban hospices. However, the researchers did not explicitly state the conclusion of the study. Another limitation of the abstract is that the authors did not state the problem that warranted the need for the study.
Introduction to the Study
According to Polit and Beck (2010, pg. 99), a good introduction should have four key elements. First, an introduction to the study should have an unambiguous and easily identifiable problem statement. The authors built a cogent and persuasive argument for the current study. More specifically, the authors noted that the need to address the study is influenced by the increased cases of chronic illnesses attributed to increased life expectancy. The authors explained that even though life expectancy has risen substantially in the U.S.A, the pain and suffering that accompanies chronic illnesses in old age has not been adequately managed. Currently, hospice services are being used to provide relief from pain and suffering for elderly patients with chronic diseases. Additionally, the authors stated that complementary therapies are currently being used to assist hospice patients with chronic conditions. Because of this, Shreffler-Grant, and Andrews (2008) outlined that there is a need to investigate the use and usefulness of complementary therapies in hospice settings.
The aims of the study were clearly stated. However, research questions and the hypotheses were not explicitly reported. The absence of the research questions and hypotheses were not justified by the researchers. Furthermore, in the introduction section of the article, the researchers conducted a thorough literature review using 19 primary sources. However, 50% of these sources were not up-to-date. That is, they were not published within the last five years of the publication of the current article. Even though the author provided a state-of-the-art synthesis of the review leading to the identification of the research problem, a conceptual framework was not provided.
According to Polit and Beck (2010, pg. 99), the methods section of a research article should have five critical components. First, the research design should be rigorous and appropriate for the purposed of the study. In Running et al. (2008) study, a descriptive survey design was used for identification of complementary therapy services that were available and received by patients from hospices. A descriptive survey design was the most appropriate for this study because it describes the prevalence of a particular characteristic in a population (Brink & Wood, 1998). This design was also suitable for the study because the researchers were interested in describing the current situation of complementary therapy services without the manipulation of the variables. According to Schmidt (2011), descriptive research design is aimed at explaining in details the phenomenon of interest. This design is useful in identifying and documenting the different characteristics of the phenomena and describing the frequency of occurrence of the phenomena.
Another vital part of the method sections of a research study is the protection of participants' rights. According to Polit and Beck (2010, pg. 99), appropriate procedures should be employed in safeguarding the rights of the research subjects. It is vital to note that the authors of the article being reviewed put in place measures to ensure that participants' rights are not violated. First, the researchers sought approval from the institutional review boards (IRBs) of their respective universities.
Even though the authors sought approval from IRBs, no efforts were made to adhere to the three basic ethical principles of the Belmont Report: respect for persons, beneficence, and justice (Mandal, Acharya, & Parija, 2011). First, failure of the researchers to respect the research participants is manifested through the authors' failure to incorporate informed consent in the recruitment of the participants. Through informed consent, the research subjects should be given a chance to choose what should or should not happen to them during the duration of the study (Mandal et al. (2011). Secondly, the authors did not assess the risks and benefits of participating in the study (beneficence). Therefore, it can be concluded that the research subjects entered the study without full knowledge of what the study entails. Other ethical aspects of studies of research studies involving human subjects that the study did not adhere to include confidentiality, anonymity, voluntary participation, and freedom to withdraw from the study. Overall, the study did not meet most of the ethical principles of research involving human subjects.
Another critical component of the methodology section of a research paper is the population and the sample. An excellent study must have well-defined population and sample (Polit and Beck, 2010). It is worth noting that in the current study, the population was explicitly stated. The population comprised of any individual in the position of hospice administrator. Although the population was reported, the researchers did not adequately explain the sample and sampling process. For instance, the authors indicated that the sample of the study comprised of 54 participants. However, the sociodemographic characteristics of these participants were not provided. Additionally, the sampling procedure was not explicitly stated. However, it can be inferred that the researchers used a purposive sampling technique to recruit the participants into the study. This is because the prospective participants comprised of hospice administrators only and not any healthcare professionals. The primary limitation of this sampling technique is that the participants do not have equal chances of being in the final sample. That is, purposive sampling technique does not minimize sample biases. Consequently, the sample lacked representativeness. Another problem with the sample is that the researchers did not use power analysis in the estimation of the sample size. Therefore, it cannot be known whether or not the sample size was adequate for addressing the aims of the study.
The data collection process was not also adequately addressed in this study. Even though the researchers stated that a modified version of "a survey instrument developed by Demmer" was used to collect data about the hospice agency, the suitability of the instrument was not discussed. For instance, the reliability of the instrument was not provided. Therefore, there is no evidence that the questionnaire consistently measured what it was intended to measure. However, it is crucial to point out that the authors assured the reader that the instrument was a valid measure of the construct being measured. More specifically, the authors reported that the survey had good content validity, clarity, and face validity (Running et al., 2008). Even though some of the types of validity were described, the authors failed to provide the Cronbach's alpha value that shows how valid the instrument is. Therefore, it can be concluded that the instrument used to gather data was not adequately described and might not have been a good choice because there is no evidence that the data collection questionnaire yielded data that were high on reliability and validity.
According to Polit and Beck (2010), the author should analyze to address each of each research question or test each hypothesis in the results section of the article. Each of the aims of the study was appropriately addressed in the current study. The first aim of the study, identification of complementary therapy services that are available to and provided for clients that received hospice care in Nevada and Montana, was addressed using descriptive analysis (mainly percentages). The author reported the prevalence of different types of complementary therapies in hospice agencies using percentages. The second aim of the study was the identification of the differences in therapies provided for urban and rural hospice clients. This was addressed through the use of Chi-square procedure. Findings of this analysis showed that there was no statistically significant difference between rural and urban hospices in the provision of different complementary therapies.
The current article had a discussion section. In this section, the author interpreted the major findings of the study in the context of prior research. However, the discussion section has two major limitations. First, even though the researchers explained their findings with reference to past researcher, only results from one past researcher was used. The authors ought to have cited many previous studies that contradict or support their current findings. Secondly, the researchers failed to address the issue of address the issue of the generalizability of the results.
Brink, P. J., & Wood, M. J. (1998). Advanced design in nursing research. SAGE.
Mandal, J., Acharya, S., & Parija, S. C. (2011). Ethics in human research. Tropical Parasitology, 1(1), 2-3. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5070.72105
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2010). Essentials of nursing research: Appraising evidence for nursing practice. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Running, A., Shreffler-Grant, J., & Andrews, W. (2008). A survey of hospices use of complementary therapy. Journal of hospice and palliative nursing: JHPN: the official journal of the Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association, 10(5), 304.
Schmidt, N. (2011). Book alone - evidence-based practice for nurses. Jones & Bartlet...
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