Part 1. Differences between quantitative and qualitative research
Research is the parlance used to refer to the search of knowledge. It is described by Kothari (2004) as both a scientific and systematic search for information and an art of scientific investigation. There are two approaches used in research, namely quantitative and qualitative research and they vary greatly on how the research is done. Quantitative research only uses measurable data to analyze while the qualitative research approach mainly uses data that are narrative and subjective. The goal or research objective of quantitative data is to use statistical models using a systematic procedure. This approach uses various steps to progress logically in the acquisition of research data and results. The quantitative research takes the scientific approach in gathering objective evidence instead of using assumptions and hunches (Polit and Beck, 2009). The information gathered in quantitative research are usually based on numeric measurement of data that are used to objectively analyze in order to reach research findings and conclusions. On the other hand, qualitative data are applied with an exploratory approach using a broader hypothesis. It involves an understanding about the human experience and the complexities involved in human nature. Qualitative research involves naturalistic inquiry in order to various possibilities from a research study. It is known to be more useful in discovering a more in-depth information to clarify certain dimensions that a quantitative research cannot possibly reach to explore, such as real life experiences and first hand subjective data and information.
Different data gathering instruments are also involved in the conduct of research. Quantitative research uses surveys, questionnaires and other measuring tools in collecting measurable and numerical data. Qualitative research, on the other hand, employs in-depth interviews, narrative, documentary analysis, focus group and uses the participant’s own observation and experiences. It can be said that the qualitative research uses a more subjective approach as compared to quantitative research that objectively analyses particular data that are measurable. The qualitative research is more useful in obtaining an understanding about the complex phenomenon because of its exploratory approach. This includes obtaining an individual’s personal life experience under a given clinical situation or research question of the study. The quantitative research approach seeks explanation and control over a certain clinical situation or research question and the investigation mainly evolves with a limited approach using statistical measurement. The approach used in qualitative research is broader than the limited and focused approach employed in quantitative research. The discreet approach in quantitative research mainly focuses on a particular whole while qualitative research puts emphasis to the holistic approach and treatment of a phenomenon. Researchers are more limited in focusing their research study in testing a certain hypothesis when using the quantitative approach, while the qualitative approach offers more opportunity to allow a certain phenomenon to happen naturally (Eliot, 2010).
The research study to be critiqued is entitled “Use of temporary nursing staff and nosocomial infections in intensive care units” which is authored by Bae, Brewer, Kelly and Spencer (2014). The main objective of the research is to examine the employment of temporary nursing staff in the intensive care unit and its relationship to nosocomial infections. The researchers employed a quantitative research approach in the study and collected data from the various intensive units of six hospitals. The study used 144 ICU monthly data for analysis. Different measurable models were used when examining the research questions. The research findings provide that there was no evidence showing that hiring temporary nurses in the ICU can have a link to the prevalence of nosocominal infections. The researchers pointed out, however, that what may be related to the nosocomial infections involve the nursing perceptions pertaining to the adequacy of the nursing staff available. The article describes the research findings showing that the inadequacy of nursing staff does not result in a poor patient care that can contribute to the prevalence of nosocomial infection in the intensive care unit. It cited other contributing factors that may be related to poor patient care, such as a poor working environment, the lack of staff orientation about hospital procedures and the poor orientation of nurses regarding their patient condition. Among the variables measured in the research study include the nosocomial variables of CLABSI and VAP, temporary nursing staffing variables, staffing level and professional staff mix measured monthly between October 2010 and September 2011 and the unit size and work environment characteristics were also measured once during the 12 month period.
The use of scientific method in the study provides the researchers in the study measurable data to investigate and use to test their hypothesis based on the research question. However, the researchers admit certain limitations involved in their quantitative research. The study samples used in the research were limited and small, and the approach used in the research failed to investigate more complex factors that could influence a better research finding involving the relationship between the use of temporary nursing staff and the prevalence of nosocomial infections. The quantitative research failed to explore the nurses’ perception of staffing adequacy that may be related to quality patient care. The main thrust of the quantitative research used in the study was to focus on the objective measure of nurse staffing without consideration of nurses’ perception of staffing inadequacy. The researchers admit that such perception of the nursing staff may cover more comprehensive aspects of nursing staffing and the work environment. The study was thus limited in its coverage in terms of searching for answers to the research question within the realms of objective measurements. The study may find more applicability on future nursing and research process by employing the qualitative approach that can explore the various research outcomes arising from analyzing and evaluating nursing perceptions and individual experiences using narrative data that cannot be explored using the quantitative research approach as used in the current study.
In critiquing the article, the research report was written concisely and was presented with an organized concept with the purpose of the study clearly identified. The title, however, is insufficient to deliver the accurate description about the research study. It mainly described the study within a general concept, failing to indicate the significance of nosocomial infection as an important element in the study. There was also a logical consistency in describing the methodology employed in the research and data analysis. The findings are adequately supported by literature studies. Most of the literature studies were obtained from resources available 10 years ago and only a few were not recent, but are notably from primary resources. The discussion of the research findings was appropriately linked and referenced to literature studies, showing the consistency of the research outcomes from similar literature findings. The variables used in the study were accurately given, while the limitations and exclusions in the samples obtained were also indicated. The researchers also presented a detailed and thorough analysis of the data obtained using tables for clarity of understanding. The research report, however, failed to indicate and elaborate about the ethical considerations used in the study. The researchers also were able to indicate the strengths and limitations of their research, while underpinning the relevance of their studies to future nursing research and pointing out using a different approach to improve the more comprehensive research outcomes from their study. The researchers were also correct in admitting that they have used a small sample size that can have a significant effect on their research findings, and thus suggested other approaches, such as using more exploratory research involving the perception of nurses in consideration of work environment and quality patient care. As a result of using a smaller sample, the research may not be represented by the other nursing populations and may thus not be applicable to hospitals in other regions.
Pat III. Evidence Based Practice Plan
In the implementation of the evidence based practice plan, it is more appropriately applied in the hospital settings where the employment of temporary nursing staffing is a common practice. Using the report from the study and the research findings, it is very useful to introduce to the nurse manager the practice of monitoring the levels of temporary nursing staff and the implication of the work environment, the process of care delivered to the patients, the quality of patient care and its impact to the other nurses as well. It can be noted that the perception of staffing adequacy vary greatly from each hospital setting. The research finding showed that the nurse’s perception is influenced by comprehensive factors that can be measured beyond the quantitative data. Thus, in the implementation of the EBP plan, it is essential to use a different approach that will cover nurses’ perception about staffing adequacy and its implication to quality patient care. Bigger hospital settings can impose bigger causes of stress that can produce a poor working environment among nurses. The EBP plan must include the determination of these stressors that can be identified through the involvement of evaluating the nurses’ perception regarding staffing and work environment with its implication to the delivery of quality patient care. It is helpful to note other considerations, such as the complexities of the work involved that widely vary from one hospital setting to another. For instance, nurses working for the same working hours may experience a different quality of interpersonal interaction with their patients and other nursing staff. Moreover, the complexities involved in the nursing care provided may be higher among nurses working in hospitals with a greater number of beds than those working on smaller units for the same working hours. It can be concluded based from the research findings that it is essential not to limit the nursing research approach to measuring objective data and using mainly statistical analysis to arrive at a better research outcome. The use of quantitative approach may not be sufficient and the employment of the qualitative research approach can also be complementary in arriving at a more comprehensive research finding. Thus, using tools such as the narrative data given by nurses will help reveal their perceptions that cannot be objectively measured using the quantitative research approach.
In implementing an evidence based practice related to the research study, it is more effective to employ the approaches that will help understand the characteristics of temporary nursing staffing aside from using the measurement of patient care hours spent that was mainly used in the research study. This can enhance the acquisition of a more comprehensive and accurate data that can help in the assessment of the relationship between nosocomial infection in the intensive care unit and temporary nursing staff. The assessment should include the educational level of the nurse, their fitness and interpersonal relationships, ability to follow their unit’s policy and procedures, teamwork ability and their own perception about temporary staffing and related personal experiences.
When incorporating a plan for research in personal practice to enhance the evidence based nursing practice outcomes, it is helpful to undertake a focus group that will allow the nursing staffs to share their own perceptions and analysis about the current nursing practice in their work environment. Using a narrative account about the nurse’s individual experiences can also help explore other potential factors that can contribute to the quality of patient outcomes and improvement of the work environment. It is critical to employ a detailed process to effectively account for human experiences that are usually difficult to quantify objectively.
Bae, S.H., Brewer, C.S., Kelly, M. and Spencer, A. (2014). Use of temporary nursing staff and nosocomial infections in intensive care units. Journal of Clinical Nursing. 24: 980-990.
Eliot, S. (2010). Ten distinctions between qualitative and quantitative studies. Retrieved from http://www.thelisteningresource.com.
Kothari, C.R. (2004). Research Methodology Methods and Techniques. New Delhi. New Age International.
Polit, D.F. and Beck, C.T. (2009). Essentials of Nursing Research.Appraising Evidence for Nursing Practice. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.