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Nursing Programs

Quantitative Methods

Quantitative Research Methods:

  • emphasize objective measurements and statistical, mathematical or numerical analysis of data
  • information collected through polls, questionnaires, and from surveys or by manipulating pre-existing statistical data using computational techniques
  • focuses on gathering numerical data and generalizing it across groups of people or to explain a particular phenomenon

Main characteristics:

  • data gathered using structured research instruments
  • results are based on larger sample sizes that are representative of the population
  • research study could be replicated or repeated
  • researcher has a clearly defined research questions to which objective answers are sought
  • data are in the form of numbers and statistics, often arranged in tables, charts, figures, or other non-textual forms
  • results can be used to generalize concepts more widely, predict future results or investigate causal relationships
  • researcher uses questionnaires or computer software to collect numerical data


Look for:

  • randomized controlled trials
  • meta-analysis of controlled trials
  • cohort study
  • case-control study
  • experimental
  • survey
  • statistical methods
  • questionnaires

Types of Quantitative Methods

There are four main types of quantitative designs: descriptive, correlational, quasi-experimental, and experimental.

Descriptive Research
  • used to describe the characteristics of a population
  • collects data that are used to answer a wide range of what, when, and how questions pertaining to a particular population or group
  • e.g. Nurses' perceived knowledge and education needs in research
  • does not answer questions about why a certain phenomenon occurs or what the causes are
Correlational Research
  • concerned with establishing relationships between two or more variables in the same population or between the same variables in two populations
  • much of correlational research relevant to nursing explores whether a relationship exists between two patient characteristics
  • e.g. During postpartum hospitalization, is maternal anxiety related to maternal age?
Quasi-experimental Research
  • research where an independent variable is manipulated, but the subjects of a study are not randomly assigned to an action (or a lack of action)
  • Do not use randomized trials
  • e.g. What is the effect of hand-washing posters in school bathrooms? (The study is quasi-experimental because the students are not randomly selected to participate in the study - they participate because they naturally interact with the intervention)
Experimental Research
  • often called true experimentation
  • uses the scientific method to establish the cause-effect relationship among a group of variables that make up a study
  • effort is made to identify and control all variables except one
  • subjects are randomly assigned rather than identified in naturally occurring groups


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