Quantitative, Qualitative, and Literature Review Approaches
There are several approaches for conducting a research study, including quantitative and qualitative methods, as well as a literature review. These approaches differ considerably in terms of their underlying epistemological and ontological assumptions, theoretical paradigm, and methodological frameworks (Yilmaz, 2013). Researchers need to select an appropriate approach to improve the success and overall quality of a research project (Neale, 2008).
Most importantly, researchers have to be aware of various research traditions to make informed decisions in choosing the approach which is most appropriate for studying their topic. This evaluative essay compares and contrasts quantitative, qualitative, and literature review approaches to determine their appropriateness for exploring a selected topic. The proposed study aims to examine the effect of subcutaneous (SC) hydration in an older adult at the end of life (EOL) care compared to the intravenous route.
Quantitative studies utilize structured, mathematical methods to collect numerical or statistical data to explain a phenomenon (Yilmaz, 2013). Isolated variables are statistically measured by using “pre-constructed standardised instrument or pre-determined response categories predetermined” to determine the causal relationship between them within a “value-free, logical, reductionist, and deterministic” framework (Yilmaz, 2013:313).
Structured questionnaires are a widely known method of collecting data in quantitative research. A questionnaire refers to a data collection tool consisting of a series of closed-ended and open-ended questions structured in the form of multiple-choice or ratings (Neale, 2008). Structured questionnaires have more closed-ended questions compared to semi-structured ones. Researchers either develop their questionnaires or use/adapt existing ones to their study.
The questionnaires may be completed by the respondents or the researcher. Self-administered questionnaires have to be clearly structured and organized with simple instructions and filters.
There are different types of questionnaires, including face-to-face, postal or email, and online. These types vary in terms of the mode of delivery. Postal questionnaires are sent to participants via email, and filled copies are returned to the researcher. It is sent along with a cover letter due to a lack of personal contact between the researcher and respondents. Telephone questionnaires are administered over the phone and are preferable when the target population is widely distributed.
In both postal and telephone questionnaires, the investigator does not interact personally with the participants. Therefore, the design and layout of the tool have to be considered carefully to overcome such limitations. Face-to-face questionnaires were administered directly to the selected units within the sampling frame (Nael2, 2008). For example, questionnaires may be handed out to older adults in EOL care in a specific clinical setting.
Alternatively, a healthcare practitioner may visit them in their homes and ask them to complete the questionnaire. In both examples, the researcher establishes personal contact with the selected subjects, which can raise response rates (Punch, 2000). However, the presence of the researcher might lead to inaccurate or biased answers.
For example, if the present research focuses on elderly adults attending one hospital, the trustworthiness of the results is likely to be compromised because the findings may be biased toward the perspectives of those patients who visit the facility frequently and those with most conditions. Therefore, researchers have to be careful when developing questionnaires to guarantee optimal results.
What is the effectiveness of subcutaneous hydration in an older adult in EOL care compared to the intravenous route?
Based on the analysis above, the face-to-face questionnaire is the most appropriate tool for the proposed investigation because of several reasons. First, a self-administered, face-to-face questionnaire will help gather comparable data from a large population. One tool will be administered to many older adults under EOL care. The second justification for the choice of this type is a higher response rate. Most importantly, personal interaction with respondents allows researchers to monitor and follow up on the progress of completing the tools, consequently enhancing response rates.
Likert scale refers to an ordinal psychometric scale designed to measure attitudes, beliefs, or opinions. The tool requires respondents to rate or indicate their level of agreement or disagreement with one of the items on the scale. The format of the scale differs based on the item or research to be probed. Most Likert scales usually include five items: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree nor Disagree, Agree, and Strongly Agree (Davies, 2011). The scale may be employed to measure respondents’ personalities, behaviors, and attitudes toward the subject of the project.
The Likert scale has several advantages compared to other types of scales. First, they are simple in terms of their structure, thus easily understood by respondents. The Likert scale is the most widely used method compared to other forms of assessment, such as yes and no. Second, the tool does not force respondents to take a position on a specific issue, unlike other assessments, which require an individual to provide a simple yes or no answer. It allows respondents to indicate their level of agreement or disagreement, which allows respondents to answer the items easily.
Besides, it takes into account the neutral or undecided feelings of participants. Second, Likert items are easier to quantify when computing the data because of the simple scoring. A single number is assigned to each of the items to reflect the individual response. Third, this scale offers a quick, efficient, and cost-effective method of collecting data. Finally, it is relatively versatile because it can be sent in many different ways, including mail, face-to-face, and over the Internet.
The major limitation of the Likert scale is the inability to capture the vast attitudes and opinions of a population. In reality, people have different beliefs and feelings about a given phenomenon. Therefore, constraining responses to a specific number of items fails to capture the vast, multi-dimensional continuum.
The unidirectional format of this tool does not permit it to measure the actual feelings of respondents. Moreover, an individual may avoid selecting extreme responses due to the negative implications. For example, perceived consequences of selecting an extreme stance on an issue may discourage respondents from indicating the right choice. Therefore, the unidirectional nature of the Likert scale and perceived negative implications of selecting extreme choice compromise the accuracy of this tool.
Appropriateness of Quantitative Approach
The quantitative approach will meet the aims and objectives of the research question in several ways. Particularly, this approach will provide a more convenient method for measuring comparable data. The use of a questionnaire or survey will allow the researcher to collect vast amounts of data from a randomly selected large representative sample, which will allow the generalization of findings. Furthermore, this method will allow the investigator to measure several participants’ responses to a limited set of questions.
This idea will not only facilitate comparison between subcutaneous hydration and intravenous route but also allow the data to be aggregated statistically. Therefore, obtaining broad and generalizable findings will allow the investigator to answer the research question adequately.
Data Collection and Analysis Methods
A structured questionnaire will be employed to capture respondents’ attitudes, beliefs, and opinions about the efficacy of SB hydration in an older adult in EOL care compared to the intravenous route. The benefits of this method are discussed in detail above and justify the choice. The collected data will be analyzed and presented using mathematical models and statistics. These methods will allow the investigator to determine causal relationships between research variables.
The quantitative research approach raises a number of ethical concerns because it involves human subjects. Several measures will have to be put in place to prevent potential violations of ethical requirements. Majorly, the researcher must seek informed consent from participants to respect and promote their right to autonomy (Boulton, 2009).
First, the researcher will have to seek approval of the research design from the relevant Institutional Review Board before commencing the actual study. Second, informed consent will be necessary because the investigation will involve a special group – older adults with terminal illnesses. The individual in this population may not be in a position to make informed decisions on their own due to their age and health condition (both mental and physical).
Therefore, the researcher may be required to involve family members. An informed consent form detailing the objective, procedures, benefits, risks, and other aspects of the study will be issued to the participant to facilitate the process. Third, the researcher will have to take precautions to maximize the benefits of the study and minimize any possible harm to participants.
For example, measures will have to be implemented to protect respondents against any potential risk involved in participating in the study. Fourth, the protection of participants’’ identity will be a key consideration for complying with ethical standards. The researcher will anonymize respondents by assigning them pseudo names to avoid disclosure of their identity. Finally, this research approach will require clear protocols for protecting the privacy and confidentiality of all personal data participants shared.
Qualitative Research Approach
Qualitative research involves collecting extensive data on a social issue with the aim of gaining an in-depth and comprehensive understanding of the phenomenon. Qualitative studies use less structured methods (such as personal interviews, focus groups, and participant observation) to collect non-numeric data (such as beliefs, attitudes, behavior, and motivation) from the participants (Hammarberg, Kirkman, and de Lacey (2016).
One-on-one interviews are the primary qualitative data collection method. It refers to a method for collecting qualitative data used to explore and understand lived experiences in complex social situations; they are one of the widely used methods of gathering data in health and social sciences (Bullock, 2016). Unlike quantitative research, which is more free value-free, reductionist, and deterministic in nature, one-on-one interviews involve subjective interpretation of the findings (Yilmaz, 2013:313).
Interviewers are actively involved in knowledge creation and serve as the instrument for data collection and analysis (Neale, 2008). The researcher interacts with participants in a conversational manner. This method can be combined with other qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques. Therefore, the researcher needs to be knowledgeable and skilled in interviewing to not only facilitate the data collection process but also obtain a nuanced understanding of participants’ perceptions, experiences, and behavior.
One-on-one interviews vary in type, structure, and mode of delivery or interaction with participants. In terms of structure, there are three types of interviews: structured, semi-structured, and unstructured (Punch, 2000). Structured interviews are highly rigid, consist of closed-ended questions, and involve asking a similar set of questions in the same order to all respondents. The interviewer does not deviate from the question sequence and other structural protocols.
Asking all interviewees the same set of questions in the same format may allow interviewing of several people in parallel, thus enabling the researcher to interview many people in a shorter period. However, the structured nature of this type of interview does not allow a nuanced understanding of the research phenomenon.
Semi-structured interviews integrate closed-ended and open-ended questions, whereas unstructured ones involve open-ended questions only. In both cases, the interview involves fewer topics and less-formal discussion. Semi-structured interviews are the most appropriate method because of their high flexibility.
Particularly, they involve less rigid structures, which allow the researcher to create follow-up and probe questions for seeking clarification on unclear or incomplete responses (Punch, 2000). The follow-up questions may generate more information and deeper insights, which might heighten understanding. Besides, the semi-structured provides a clear framework for interrogating participants, which helps in gathering data consistently.
Apart from structure, one-on-one interviews differ in terms of their mode of delivery. Specifically, interviews can be face-to-face, by telephone, or web-based, such as Skype. Telephone and Internet-based interviews are more cost-effective compared to face-to-face interviews. The researcher can access all participants using a telephone, which leads to significant savings in terms of money and time. Telephone and web-based interviews are particularly useful when the target participants are widely geographically distributed.
However, this approach creates room for inaccurate responses since interviewees may give false answers due to a lack of personal contact with the interviewer. Another major concern with these types of interviews is the low response rate. Researchers may fail to access those to be interviewed by phone or Skype due to several issues, such as bad weather, poor Internet connection, and poor timing. Besides that, the costs involved and the inability to use visual aids and prompts may limit the complexity and effectiveness of the interview process. The length of the interview and response rate can be increased by booking an appointment with the participants through a covering letter.
Face-to-face interviews involve personal interaction between the interviewer and interviewee. The interviewer may use audio or videotape the conversation or take notes using hands or a computer for later coding and analysis. The personal interview approach is the most method for this research question because of several reasons. Although personal interviews are relatively more labor-intensive and time-consuming than telephone interviews, they will provide the most effective approach to gathering quality data.
Personal contact with the interviewees will encourage them to give accurate responses. The interviewer has a chance to assess the authenticity of the answers, a tactic that can help reduce false, inaccurate responses. Furthermore, the physical presence will allow the interviewer to follow up on questions and ask probing questions directly and receive feedback within a shorter time. For example, the researcher may ask respondents to clarify unclear or incomplete answers.
Apart from that, the length of face-to-face interviews is usually longer than the telephone, which is limited by resource constraints. The interviewer may have adequate use of charts, diagraphs, photos, and videos to explain or illustrate the questions or concepts during the interview. Integrating these visual aids can allow the researcher to gather more complex and high-quality data. All these factors will facilitate the collection of detailed and in-depth data, leading to a nuanced understanding of the effectiveness of SB hydration in an older adult in EOL care compared to the intravenous route.
Appropriateness of the Qualitative Approach
This approach will meet the aims and objectives of the proposed research question by collecting comprehensive information about the experiences of the older adults in EOL care in their own words through one-on-one interviews. The participatory, naturalistic nature of this method will allow the researcher to capture the actual lived experiences of respondents, which will help understand and present their world, actions, interactions, and behaviors as they are seen and experienced by the participants.
The depth of the target population’s perceptions, feelings, experiences, and meaning at a personal level will permit a nuanced understanding of how SB hydration affects older adults in EOL care compared to the intravenous route.
Just as in quantitative study, ethical standards and requirements will be at the forefront of all activities during the naturalistic inquiry. The qualitative approach will raise the same ethical concerns as those posed by the quantitative method. The primary moral concern in this study will be the risk of doing harm to participants. It is imperative for the researcher to see to it that the elderly patients in EOL care are free from any risk of physical and mental harm.
Other important ethical considerations include seeking informed consent, protecting participants’ identity by anonymizing them and keeping all personal data collected private and confidential. The safety and protection of participants will be guaranteed only if these protocols, especially the interview guide and research design, are approved by the relevant Institutional Review Board.
Data Collection and Analysis
The data will be collected by using an interview guide which will be administered during the personal interview. The main justification for selecting this method is high-quality data and a higher response rate. These points are discussed in detail in the previous subsection. The qualitative data will be analyzed using the thematic analysis technique. Thematic analysis is a qualitative data analysis method that involves scanning through text to identify, analyze, organize, describe, and report themes found within a data set (Nowell et al., 2017).
In light of this technique, the findings of the proposed study will be presented thematically. This method will require the researcher to identify recurring themes or patterns in the text. The results of the investigation will be highly specific to the research context and case. The major reason for choosing thematic analysis is the flexibility with which it gives the analyst.
The method does not align with a specific theory. Thus researchers have the discretion to choose the theoretical framework which suits the research and aim of their study (Nowell et al., 2017). The flexibility will enable the researcher to provide a richer, more detailed, and comprehensive description of the collected data. Apart from that, the simplicity of this technique makes it suitable for novice researchers who do not have adequate knowledge, skill, and experience with other more complex techniques of analyzing qualitative data.
Definition of Literature Review
A literature review is both a standalone research methodology and an important step of the research process. It refers to a method of searching and appraising relevant literature systematically (Snyder, 2019). The terms ‘systematic” and “rigorous” distinguish this research approach from conventional Internet searches. In addition to the findings of previous studies published in a peer-review journal, the literature appraisal also evaluates the research design, questions, and other requirements of standard scientific research.
Types of Literature Reviews
There are several types of literature reviews and including systematic, scoping, and narrative reviews. An integrated or narrative literature review focuses more on providing a summary of and critiquing existing literature about the research topic. One or multiple databases are searched to identify articles matching the research topic and question.
A narrative review is different from other literature review methods in the sense that the criteria employed to search for and assess sources for relevance are rarely disclosed to the reader. It aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the subject matter being studied and identify areas that necessitate further research. A systematic review is very districted from the traditional review approach as it involves a more systematic and highly rigorous process of searching and evaluating published materials.
Besides, this approach involves strict restrictions on the materials to be resourced as researchers are required to develop robust literature review protocol and criteria for inclusion and exclusion of literature and disclose them (Snyder, 2019). Scoping reviews are almost similar to systematic reviews due to their systematic and rigorous approach to the literature search and appraisal process. However,
What is the effect of subcutaneous hydration in an older adult in EOL care compared to the intravenous route?
Appropriate Literature Review Method
A systematic review is the most suitable method for finding and synthesizing published peer-reviewed sources on the intravenous route and SB hydration in an older adult in EOL care. The major reason for choosing this approach is the highly rigorous, systematic, transparent, and reproducible literature search and appraisal process involved in systematic reviews (Snyder, 2019). According to Snyder (2019), systematic reviews are the gold standard among literature methods.
These characteristics of systematic reviews will allow nuanced exploration of the research question. The aim and objectives of the research question will be addressed by searching for more relevant and current literature on the research topic, which will generate more nuanced and emerging evidence on the effectiveness of the treatments in the target population.
Researchers using the systematic review approach are expected to adhere to conventional ethical standards and principles discussed in the previous sections. In addition to these irreducible minimums, this approach requires researchers to disclose their literature review strategy detailing the criteria for inclusion and other important elements of the review process (Snyder, 2019). Furthermore, researchers exercise informed subjectivity and reflexivity and purposefully informed selective inclusivity to avoid concerns such as publication and selection bias (Suri, 2020).
Data Collection and Analysis
An extensive search of several databases will be undertaken using a predetermined protocol to find relevant studies examining the effect of the intravenous route and SB hydration in an older adult in EOL care. The search will be limited to peer-reviewed articles published in English between 2015 and 2020. The selected reports will be evaluated, interpreted, and distilled to generate relevant evidence for answering the research questions. The data will be analyzed thematically.
Boulton, M, 2009. ‘Research ethics, in Neale’, J. (ed.) Research methods for health and social care, Macmillan International Higher Education, pp. 31-45.
Bullock, A., 2016. Conduct one-to-one qualitative interviews for research. Education for Primary Care, 27(4), pp.330-332.
Davies, K.S., 2011. Formulating the evidence based practice question: a review of the frameworks. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 6(2), pp.75-80.
Hammarberg, K., Kirkman, M. and de Lacey, S., 2016. Qualitative research methods: when to use them and how to judge them. Human reproduction, 31(3), pp. 498-501.
Neale, J. ed., 2008. Research methods for health and social care. Macmillan International Higher Education.
Nowell, L.S., Norris, J.M., White, D.E. and Moules, N.J., 2017. Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. International journal of qualitative methods, 16(1). Web.
Punch, K., 2000. Developing effective research proposals. Sage.
Snyder, H., 2019. Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research, 104, pp. 333-339.
Suri, H., 2020. Ethical Considerations of Conducting Systematic Reviews in Educational Research. Systematic Reviews in Educational Research, p.41.
Yilmaz, K., 2013. Comparison of quantitative and qualitative research traditions: Epistemological, theoretical, and methodological differences. European journal of education, 48(2), pp.311-325.