Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health and Health Services

By Ann Bowling | Go to book overview

Preface to the second edition

This book is more than a text on research methods. It is an introduction to the theoretical concepts, as well as the descriptive and analytic research methods, that are used by the main disciplines engaged in research on health and health services. In order to understand why the various research methods are used, it is important to be aware of the conceptual backgrounds and scientific philosophies of those involved in research and evaluation, in particular in demography, epidemiology, health economics, psychology and sociology.

The second edition, while essentially similar to the first edition, includes updated references and reference to key methodological developments (for example, cluster randomisation, utility analyses, patients' preferences and perception of risk). The book is aimed at students and researchers of health and health services, health professionals and the policy-makers who have the responsibility for applying research findings, and who need to know how to judge the soundness of that research. The idea for the book, and its structure, is grounded in my career as a researcher on health and health service issues, and the valuable experience this has provided in meeting the challenges of research on people and organisations in real life settings.

The varying terminology used by members of different disciplines in relation to the same research methods is often confusing. This variation simply reflects the multidisciplinary nature of this whole area, and the specialised languages of each discipline. While no descriptor can be labelled as incorrect, the multitude of them, especially when not clearly defined, can easily lead to confusion. Therefore, I have tried to justify the terminology used where it differs from that in other disciplines.

Towards the end of the book I have included a Glossary. The first time each entry appears in the text it is highlighted in bold.

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