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Research Problem

area of concern; gap in knowledge needed for practice

Problem Statement

Justification of need
Significance for nursing
Need significant and current references for nursing research.

Purpose Statement

Clear, concise statement
Goal, aim, focus, or objective of study
Includes variables, population, and setting

Examine Study Feasibility

Time commitment
Money commitment
Researchers' expertise
Availability of subjects, facility, and equipment
Ethical considerations

Qualitative Study Purpose

Identifies areas of concern
Gains new insights
Is focus of study
Identifies qualitative approach and assumptions
Differs among each qualitative methodology because of philosophical orientations

Significance of a study problem and purpose

Should build on previous research
Should influence nursing practice
Promotes theory testing or development
Addresses nursing research priorities

Critiquing Guidelines for problems and purposes

Is problem clear and concise?
Is problem limited in scope?
Is problem narrow to focus study?
Does problem identify variables, population, and setting?
Are problem and purpose able to generate knowledge?
Is study feasible?
Is study ethical?

Research Question

interrogative statements that focus on what variables or concepts are to be described and what relationships might exist among them


Formal statements of expected relationships among variables

Types of Hypotheses

Associative vs. causal
Simple vs. complex
Nondirectional vs. directional
Null vs. research

Associative hypothesis

Relationships between variables
An increase in variable X is associated with an increase in variable Y in a specified population
An increase in variable X is associated with a decrease in variable Y in a specified population

Causal hypothesis

Cause-and-effect relationship between variables. In a true experimental design
Persons who participate in nurse-managed home telemonitoring (HT) plus usual care or who participate in nurse-managed community-based monitoring (CBM) plus usual care will have greater improvement in blood pressure (BP) from baseline to 3 months' follow-up than will persons who receive usual care onl

Simple Hypothesis

2 variables (one independent and the other dependent
Higher levels of perceived control would be associated with less emotional distress in spouses of patients recovering from cardiac disease
Perceived control could be enhanced in spouses of cardiac patients by cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training

Complex Hypothesis

more than 2 variables
Both men and women who participated in the CHIP (Cardiac Home Information Program) intervention would have lower levels of psychological distress, higher levels of physical functioning, and fewer adverse symptoms than would women and men who did not participate in such a program

Non directional hypothesis

Relationship exists between variables, but hypothesis does not predict nature of relationship
Ex. Early nursing home residents self appraisal are r/t their conditioning factors between the elder nsg home residents and self appraisal. But no direction.

directional hypothesis

Nature (positive or negative) of interaction between two or more variables is stated
These are developed from theoretical framework, literature, or clinical practice
example: Attitudes of pediatric nurses toward mentally retarded clients are more favorable than those of medical surgical nurses

Null hypothesis

States there is no difference or relationship between variables
Is also called statistical hypothesis
can also be associative hypothesis, also simple/complex hypothesis too.
example: There is no difference in reported pain experienced by cancer patients with chronic pain who listen to music with positive suggestion of pain reduction and those who do not

Research hypothesis

States what researcher thinks is true
There is a relationship between two or more variables
example: Cancer patients with chronic pain who listen to music with positive suggestions of pain reduction have less reported pain than those who do not listen to music


Qualities, properties, or characteristics of people, things, or situations that are manipulated or measured in research

Characteristics of variables

Are at a more concrete level than concepts
Represent only a portion of the concept
Several variables may be used to represent one concept

Types of variables

Independent variables
Dependent variables
Research variables or concepts
Extraneous variables
Demographic variables

Independent variable

the stimulus or activity manipulated or varied by the research to cause an effect on dependent variables
It is also called the treatment or experimental variables

Dependent variable

the outcome or response the researcher wants to predict or explain
Changes in the dependent variable are presumed to be caused by the independent variable

Research variable or concept

These are the qualities, properties, or characteristics identified in the research purpose and objectives or questions that are observed or measured in a study
They are used when the intent is to observe or measure variables as they exist in a natural setting without manipulation

Extraneous variables

They can interfere with obtaining clear understanding of relational or causal dynamics in the study
They can be recognized or unrecognized and controlled or uncontrolled
If the variable is not recognized until the study is in process or cannot be controlled, it is called a confounding variable
An environmental variable is an uncontrolled variable relating to the setting

Demographic variable

Contain sample characteristics of subjects
May include age, education, gender, ethnic origin, income, medical diagnosis, etc.
Demographic data are analyzed to develop sample characteristics
Are found in both Quantitative and Qualitative research studies.


translating downward to more concrete level
Moves from concept to variable to measures

Conceptual definition

Abstract meaning of a variable that usually is based on theory

Operational definition

Way of defining a variable that makes it measurable or manipulable in real world
example: Smoking rates that were monitored through use of self-report data and validated by corroborating reports from friends and family members. Participants who varied in their answers from their significant contacts or could not be reached by telephone were considered ongoing smokers and were included in the resulting relapse rates.

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