Health Science Research: A Handbook of Quantitative Methods

Health Science Research: A Handbook of Quantitative Methods

Health Science Research: A Handbook of Quantitative Methods

Health Science Research: A Handbook of Quantitative Methods


A practical introduction to quantitative methods used in clinical health research.


Such excitement awaits the person doing research! It is an experience that is hard to describe, but it has to do with the delight of discovery, of having 'gone where no-one has gone before' and of having something to say that is unique. Of course, there's an awful lot of sheer drudgery: after every good meal there's the washing up! And the research person needs to be endowed with a keen competitive spirit and persistence, and also with a willingness to confront mistakes, to tolerate failed hypotheses, to see one's bright ideas hit the dust, to be wrong, and to recognise it. So besides being exhilarating, research can be boring, depressing and difficult!

What makes for good research? It certainly helps to have a research question that excites you. Beyond that there is a need for money to do the work, a good team to support you, and others to be firmly critical so that mistakes are detected early and false leads are abandoned before you become too fond of them to say good-bye. The architecture of the research is also critical and it is here that this book should prove its worth beyond diamonds.

The research process, beginning with the confirmation that your research question really IS new, that it hasn't been answered ages ago or that you have not been gazumped while you were thinking about it, leads through careful sketched plans to choosing the appropriate measures, and so forth. The research methods described in this book focus on questions that require you to go into the community, either the community of patients or the community of the walking well, to obtain your answers. The research methods described are directed at fundamentally epidemiological and clinical questions and so are quantitative, medically orientated and reductionist. This form of research is one that is used to investigate the causes of health problems and to give answers that enable medical and other interventions to be designed for prevention or alleviation. This approach does not include qualitative research methods that provide answers to questions that have to do with attitudes, feelings and social constructs. These forms of research require different methods.

This book will clearly be a great help to young and, to some extent, experienced research workers, focusing on epidemiological and clinical questions framed either in terms of the broad community or patient groups. I recommend it most warmly to these researchers and for this purpose.

Stephen R Leeder, BSc(Med), MBBS, PhD, FRACP, FFPHM, FAFPHM Dean Faculty of Medicine University of Sydney . . .

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