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Critical evaluation of nursing research

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Introduction Alasad J., M Ahmad (2005): Communication with critically ill patients. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 50(4), 356-362. Critical evaluation of research The purpose of this assignment is to critically evaluate the research article entitled above. Hek et al (1996) say that when we critique research material it is important to identify both the strengths and weaknesses of the study. Polit and Hungler (2001) would also agree with this and state that a research critique is a judicious, critical appraisal of the strengths and limitations and not just a review or summary of the article. Critical evaluation allows an individual to assess the worth of a research article by looking carefully at all parts of the study (Walsh & Wigens 2003). The aim therefore, is to critique and evaluate the chosen article in terms of strengths and weaknesses, to demonstrate an understanding of the research process and to relate this to professional practice. According to Smith (1997), good critiquing skills will prevent nurses from accepting inept research findings. However the task of critiquing is according to LoBiondo-Wood & Haber (2006) a challenging one and can only be effectively achieved through much practice and skill. Framework for analysis The framework used to critique this piece of research is the LoBiondo-wood and Haber (2002, (appendix 2). The framework suggests questions we should ask ourselves to cover all aspects of the research to evaluate it effectively. All sections should be critically analysed to establish the credibility, transferability, dependability and conformability of the research. Research and evidence based practice. Nursing research aims to increase the sum of what is already known by the discovery of new facts or relationships through a process of systematic inquiry (Macleod-Clark & Hockey 1989). Silverman (2005) proposes that research is not a luxury for the academic, but a tool for developing the quality of nursing decisions, prescriptions and actions. As nurses we have a research responsibility, neglect of that responsibility could be classified as professional negligence. ...read more.


In purposive sampling individuals are selected to participate in research based on their firsthand experience with a culture, social interaction, or phenomenon of interest (Streubert and Carpenter 1999). Unlike quantitative research, there is no need to randomly select individuals, because manipulation, control, and generalization of findings are not the intent of the inquiry. This type of sampling aims to commit to observing and interviewing people who have had experience with the culture or phenomena of interest (Streubert & Carpenter 1999). The concern of the researchers is to develop a rich or dense description of the culture or phenomenon, rather than using sampling techniques that support generalizability of the findings. The results of research may be considered to be biased if the sample is not representative of the whole population. Bias can be introduced if the sample is unrepresentative (Stewart & Parmar 1996). Gaulter and Buchanan (2000) argue that most sampling methods are likely to produce biased samples. Sample size should generally be determined before the study is conducted and the general rule of thumb is always to use the largest sample possible (LoBiondo-Wood & Haber 2006). These principles are however not applicable to qualitative research, for which the researchers focus is to obtain rich data highlighting the participants lived experience. Although this form of sampling appeared appropriate for this piece of research, the researcher, and the reader should be aware of the limitations of this sampling strategy; for as with non-probability sample, the ability to generalize to a wider population is limited. Data Collection In-depth interviews Interviews were carried out using a broad initial question; participants were then asked subsequent questions to clarify their answers. This unstructured interview method is used primarily in descriptive and qualitative studies (Burns & Grove 2001). The unstructured interview provides the opportunity for the participants to fully explain their experiences and provides a greater depth in the answers provided (Streubert & Carpenter 1999). ...read more.


The reader can fully appreciate the relevance of good communication skills. There is an adequate amount of detail for the reader to evaluate the importance of incorporating the findings into their own practice. Summary The conclusion of the report summarised the main study findings and made explicit the significance the findings may have to nursing practice. The researchers suggest further research is needed to address nurse-patient communication and the outcomes this may have on patient outcomes, and suggests the need for more emphasis on communication skills in critical care programmes and nursing practice. Conclusion The article was clearly presented and included an informative abstract which enabled the reader to identify whether the article was relevant. The use of sub-headings contributed to the ease of which the research article could be followed. Accurate referencing was included throughout the report which enabled the reader to study further. Whilst this article was published in a credible journal certain weaknesses were identified which may reduce its transferability, although the findings may help with nurse education and enhance patient care. When critiquing journal articles it is important to consider that word constraints may have influenced what was included, the article should therefore be evaluated with this in mind. Interpreting and understanding research is a fundamental part of the process involved in working towards evidence-based nursing. It is essential that nurses are able to make judgements about the value of research, before altering their practice. Critiquing allows the assessment and identification of valid research, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. It can tempting to take published statements at face value, however the reader should remember that authors may misrepresent what they actually did, and can overestimate its originality and potential importance. As a future practicing nurse, I find the results alarming as they reflect badly on the nursing profession, as effective communication skills are one of the core elements of nursing practice. On reflection this critique has enabled me to evaluate not only the findings of a piece of research but also the methods used throughout the research process. ...read more.

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