Data Collection Methods In Nursing Research

Afza.Malik GDA

Data Collection in Nursing 

Data Collection Methods In Nursing Research

Data Collection Methods ,Self-reports, Observations, and Biophysiological Measures, Specific Use of Self Report,Observational Methods,Structured Observational Methods,Data Collection In Nursing.

Data Collection Methods

    Nurse researchers use a wide variety of methods for collecting data (the pieces of information used to address a research problem), and these methods vary on a number of important dimensions. 

    One dimension involves whether the data being collected are quantitative or qualitative. Until the 1980s, nurse researchers predominantly used methods of collecting quantitative data (information in numeric form) that could be analyzed by statistical techniques. 

    The collection of quantitative information tends to involve highly structured methods in which exactly the same information is gathered from study participants in a comparable, prespecified way. 

    Although quantitative data collection remains the most frequently used approach, nurse researchers have shown increasing interest in collecting qualitative data (information in narrative form). 

    Researchers collecting qualitative data tend to have a more flexible, unstructured approach to collecting information, relying on ongoing insights during data collection to guide the course of further data gathering.

Self-reports, Observations, and Biophysiological Measures

    Another important dimension concerns the basic mode of data collection. The most frequently used modes of data collection by nurse researchers are self-reports, observations, and biophysiological measures. 

    Self-reports involve the collection of data through direct questioning of people about their opinions, characteristics, and experiences. 

    Self-re- ports can be gathered orally by having inter viewers ask study participants a series of questions in writing by having participants complete a paper-and-pencil task or, less frequently, by having participants engage in some other activity, such as sorting cards. 

    Structured, quantitative self-report data are usually collected by means of a formal, writ ten document or instrument that specifies exactly what questions are to be asked. The instrument is called an interview schedule when the data are collected orally and a questionnaire when the data are collected in writing. 

    Interviews can be conducted either in person or over the telephone. Interviews and questionnaires often incorporate one or more formal scales to measure certain clinical data (eg, fatigue) or a psychological attribute (eg, attitudes toward nursing homes). 

    A scale typically yields a composite measure of responses to multiple questions and is de- signed to assign a numeric score to respondents to place them on a continuum with respect to the attribute being measured (e.g., depression). 

    A less frequently used method of collecting structured self-report data is referred to as a Q-sort, which involves having the participant sort cards with words or phrases on them according to some continuum (e.g., most like me-least like me).

Specific Use of Self Report

    Self-report methods are also used by re- searchers who are primarily interested in qualitative data. When self-report data are gathered in an unstructured way, the re- searcher typically does not have a specific set of questions that must be asked in a specific order or worded in a given way. 

    Instead, the researcher starts with some general questions and allows respondents to tell their stories in a natural, conversational fashion. 

    Methods of collecting qualitative self-report data include completely unstructured interviews (conversational discussions on a topic), focused interviews (conversations guided by a broad topic guide), focus group interviews (discussions with small groups), life histories (narrative, chronological self disclosures about an aspect of the respondent's life experiences), and critical incidents (discussions about an event or behavior that is critical to some outcome of interest). 

    Although most unstructured self- reports are gathered orally, a researcher can also ask respondents to maintain a written diary of their thoughts on a given topic. 

    Projective techniques, although not always considered a form of self-report, encompass a variety of data collection methods that rely on the participant's projection of psychological traits in response to vaguely structured stimuli (eg, a Rorschach test). 

    Projective techniques almost always solicit qualitative data, but the data can sometimes be quantified. Self-report methods are indispensable as a means of collecting data on human beings, but they are susceptible to errors of reporting, including a variety of response biases.

Observational Methods

    The second major mode of data collection is through observation. 

    Observational methods are techniques for collecting data through the direct observation of people's behavior, communications, characteristics, and activities, either directly through the human senses or with the aid of observational equipment such as videotape cameras. 

    Researchers who collect qualitative observational data do so with a minimum of researcher-imposed structure and interference with those being observed. People are observed, typically in social settings, engaging in naturalistic behavior. 

    The researcher makes notes of his or her observations in narrative form. A special type of unstructured observation is referred to as participant observation: the researcher gains entry into the social group of interest and participates to varying degrees in its functioning while gathering the observational data.

Structured Observational Methods

    Structured observational methods dictate what the observer should observe and how to record it. In this approach the observers often use checklists to record the appearance, frequency, or duration of preselected behaviors, events, or characteristics. 

    Alternatively, the observer may use a rating scale to measure dimensions such as the intensity of observed behavior. Observational techniques are an important alternative to self-report techniques, but judgmental errors and other biases can pose a threat to the validity and accuracy of observational data.

Data Collection In Nursing 

    Data for nursing studies may also be de- rived from biophysiological measures, which can be classified as either in vivo measurements (those performed within or on living organisms) or in vitro measurements (those performed outside the organism's body, such as blood tests). 

    Biophysiological measures are quantitative indicators of clinically relevant attributes they require specialized technical instruments and equipment. Qualitative clinical data-for example, descriptions of skin pallor are gathered not through technical instruments but rather through observations or self-reports. 

    Biophysiological measures have the advantage of being objective, accurate, and precise and are typically not subject to many biases.

    Although most nursing research involves the collection of new data through self report , observation, or biophysiological instrumentation, some research involves the analysis of preexisting data, such as are available through written documents. 

    Clinical records, such as hospital records, nursing charts, and so forth, constitute rich and relatively inexpensive data sources. 

    A variety of other types of documents (e.g., letters, newspaper articles) can be used as data sources for both qualitative researchers (e.g., those conducting historical research) and quantitative ones (e.g., researchers doing a quantified content analysis).

    The collection of data is often the most time consuming and costly activity in the research process. It is also a challenging task that requires creativity, the ability to adequately match the research question with the appropriate approach, and the ability to work within budgetary constraints.Read More

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