Week 1: Study Designs and the Scientific Method

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year.

—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2014)

How do researchers know stroke is the leading cause of death in the United States?

Historically, the factors leading to heart disease and stroke were not known. The Framingham Heart Study was a research study beginning in 1948, involving 5,209 people living in the town of Framingham, Massachusetts. This study is one of the most important studies of modern medicine. Since this study, the risk factors behind heart disease are now common knowledge among health professionals and the general public. The findings from this long-term study have also led to the development of numerous treatments and preventive measures (Mullner, 2007). Study designs play an essential role in modern medicine in everything from analyzing data to determining whether a treatment will work (Perry, 2014).

This week, you examine various research study designs. You review different research scenarios and identify the study designs used in such. You also examine steps to the scientific method and how it relates to experimental studies.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze study designs for public health data
  • Evaluate statistical concepts related to study designs
  • Analyze application of the scientific method in case studies

Learning Resources

Note: To access this week’s required library resources, please click on the link to the Course Readings List, found in the Course Materials section of your Syllabus.

Required Readings

Gerstman, B. B. (2015). Basic biostatistics: Statistics for public health practice (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Chapter 1, “Measurement” (pp. 3–18) (review from SPSS lab)

Chapter 1 (PDF)

 

Chapter 2, “Types of Studies” (pp. 21–42)

Chapter 2 (PDF)

 

The peer-reviewed journal article for Assignment 2 will be distributed by your instructor. Note that the article is not listed here within the weekly resources because a new one is selected each quarter.

Manolio, T. A., Weis, B. K., Cowie, C. C., Hoover, R. N., Hudson, K., Kramer, B. S.,…Collins, F. S. (2012). New models for large prospective studies: Is there a better way? American Journal of Epidemiology 175(9), 859–866.

Manolio, T.A., Weis, B.K., Cowie, C.C., Hoover, R.N., Hudson, K., Kramer, B.S., & Collins, F.S. (2012). New models for large prospective studies: Is there a better way? American Journal of Epidemiology, 175(9), 859–866. Used with permission from Teri Manolio.

Walden University Center for Research Quality. (n.d.). Research resources: SPSS. Retrieved August 20, 2019, from https://academicguides.waldenu.edu/researchcenter/resources/SPSS

World Health Organization. (2001). Health research methodology: A guide for training in research methods (2nd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.wpro.who.int/publications/docs/Health_research_edited.pdf

Document: Week 1 Assignment Worksheet: Study Designs – Rubric Included (Word document)

 

Note: This week, you install the SPSS software to your computer. Throughout the course, you will need to reference it in order to interpret and apply public health data. Although you might have used SPSS in a previous course, here are some helpful suggestions for using this software:
Before you can learn how to perform statistical calculations using SPSS, you must first install the software. SPSS is a bit costly, but Walden students have free access to the software when it is a program requirement.
Should you download SPSS? (Note: You should check which version of SPSS is currently available via the links in the Learning Resources.)

  • Yes, if you have never used SPSS prior to this course.
  • Yes, if you have an older version and would like the newer version.
  • Yes, if you had an older version of SPSS, but your license has since expired and you need to continue using it.
  • No, if you have already downloaded the available version of SPSS but your license has since expired. In this specific case, see the document titled “Instructions for Updating an Expired License” in the Learning Resources.

If you need to install SPSS, refer to the installation guides provided in the Learning Resources. Note that there are two different installation guides, one for Windows users and one for Mac users. The guides are extensive and provide help for each step in the process. Take your time and follow the instructions carefully.
Once the installation process is complete, you will need a license code to activate the software. You will find that code at the website listed in the Learning Resources. Note: The code activation website also includes instructions for activating ISM SPSS AMOS. You do not need to install AMOS, so disregard the AMOS installation instructions and licensing code.

Good to Know

You may find the following resources and information helpful as you progress through your studies this week:

Assignment 1: Study Designs

How do public health professionals determine which study design is most effective for informing public health practice? Before implementing a study, careful consideration must be given to the relevance of the proposed study design. Some questions to consider when determining study designs include: What is the research question? Who is the population of interest? What information needs to be obtained? What is the expected duration of the study? What are the total costs associated with the study?

For this Assignment, you are provided with a worksheet that describes a number of scenarios related to public health research. Review this week’s Resources and reflect on the types of study designs for public health data.

The Assignment

  • Complete the study designs worksheet found in the Resources by identifying the appropriate study design and variable types for each scenario.

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK1Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 1  You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer Find the document you saved as “WK1Assgn1+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submitbutton to complete your submission.

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Assignment 1 Rubric

 

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:

Submit your Week 1 Assignment 1 draft and review the originality report.

 

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:

Week 1 Assignment 1

 

Assignment 2: Journal Article Review (Following the Scientific Method)

As a public health professional, you might come across questions or assumptions about a real world health phenomenon. In biostatistics, these questions and assumptions are narrowed down into a research question. Some examples of research questions include: “Does exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) effect brain development in infants and young children?” and “Is there a relationship between low self-esteem and eating disorders?”

In reflecting on a proposed research question and reviewing the literature, researchers form a hypothesis, which is an essential component of the scientific method (Harris, 2014). Once the hypothesis and study methods are formed, data must be collected and analyzed to determine whether the data supports or rejects the hypothesis. The scientific method includes the steps a public health professional or researcher should follow to arrive at the appropriate conclusion about the hypothesis.

Download and read the journal article assigned by your instructor. (They should post it to DocSharing, the Optional Discussion area, an Announcement, or send through email.) Reflect on the steps to the scientific method and how such relates to the study that was conducted.

The Assignment (1–2 pages)

  • Summarize the purpose of the study
  • Identify the stated or implied hypothesis [or expected outcome(s)]
  • Describe the variables examined in the study
  • Summarize the research methodology used in carrying out the study including the following:
    • Study participants
    • Study design utilized
    • Procedures used to gather data
    • Type(s) of statistical analysis/analyses used

By Day 7

Submit your Assignment.

Note: Please make sure that you have installed the SPSS software to your computer per the instructions in Week 1. You will begin using this software beginning Week 2 of the course.

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK1Assgn2+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 2 Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 1 Assignment 2  You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer Find the document you saved as “WK1Assgn2+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submitbutton to complete your submission.

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:

Week 1 Assignment 2

 

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:

Submit your Week 1 Assignment 2 draft and review the originality report.

 

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:

Week 1 Assignment 2

 

Discussion: Optional Study Group Discussion (SGD)

Whether you are assisting your colleagues or asking for assistance, it is recommended you participate in the SGDs each week, with an initial post intended to spark a conversation and then through interacting with your colleagues’.

To prepare

Review the Learning Resources for this week and reflect on any concepts or material that you found interesting or challenging for discussion with your colleagues.

By Day 5

Ask and answer questions, collaborating with your peers to gain a robust understanding of the concepts presented in the Discussion or Assignments for the week.

This post, and future SGD posts for this course, should be written to spark discussion among your colleagues. In other words, your post should not contain a statement of fact or a list of solutions to the exercises. Do not be afraid to ask for help, and do not be hesitant to offer it. Remember to conduct yourself professionally and patiently with your colleagues.

By Day 7

Engage in discussion with your colleagues by contributing multiple meaningful, substantive ideas, suggestions, and insights on the focus topic. Present your written contributions in a polished, professional manner.

Submission and Grading Information

Post by Day 5 and Respond by Day 7

To participate in this Discussion:

Optional Study Group Discussion

 

Quiz: Check Your Knowledge

By Day 7

Complete the Check Your Knowledge Quiz. This Quiz assesses your mastery of this week’s Learning Resources. The Quiz can only be taken once. You will have two hours to submit your answers.

Submission and Grading Information

Submit Your Quiz by Day 7

To submit your Quiz:

Week 1 Quiz

 

Week in Review

This week, you evaluated statistical concepts and analyzed study design for public health data. You analyzed applications of the scientific method in case studies.

Next week, you will review frequency distributions and summary statistics using SPSS to analyze variables in databases.

To go to the next week:

Week 2

 

 

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