Whether researchers choose to conduct a quantitative or qualitative study, they often articulate objectives, questions and hypotheses in order to clarify the research direction. Objectives are used in order to indicate the specific focus of a study, questions are often more granular and explore relationships between a studys variable or concepts, and hypotheses make a prediction about the stated relationships (Gray & Grove, 2021).To compare how these concepts are used, we can look at both a quantitative and a qualitative study. Westling et al.s study (2019), stated two objectives: the primary objective was to evaluate the effects of a standardized version of BA [brief admission] by self-referral on inpatient and compulsory care among individuals who self-harm and are at risk of suicide. The secondary objective was to examine whether BA by self-referral increases individuals daily functioning and reduces their frequency of self-harm. (Westling et al., 2019, para 4). The first objective indicates that it is mostly exploratory and more open-ended; it is simply evaluating effects. The second is more focused and states specifically the variables being studied. In an experimental study, such as this one, the objective tells the reader, in concrete terms, what is being studied and can ensure focus on a specific aspect of a broader and more amorphous concept.Using a qualitative structure, Edmonson, Brennan, and House (2018, para 6) stated their objective as, to explore the acceptability of using an approach (photo-elicitation) that does not rely on solely verbal or written techniques, and to make a preliminary assessment of whether people can usefully employ images to support a discussion about the reasons why they self-harm. Qualitative research is usually more abstract and inquisitory. This studys objective reflects that, in that it does not specify a relationship between variables that can be manipulated. It focuses more on the lived experience of the study participants and their views on a phenomenon.According to Gray and Grove, the questions used in quantitative studies can indicate the type of study conducted (2021). Westling and colleagues (2019) indicate they are using an experimental design when asking, Is self-referred brief admission more effective than treatment as usual in reducing the use of inpatient services for individuals who self-harm and are at risk of suicide? The researchers plainly indicate they intend to use an intervention group and control group in order to study the effectiveness of the intervention.Most qualitative nursing studies are guided by the research purpose; very few include stated research questions (Gray & Grove, 2021, p. 134). This is illustrated quite well in the self-harm study mentioned. The authors indicate several reasons why traditional interviewing is inadequate to understand the reasons behind self-harm. They also hint that a lack of understanding of root causes may be why self-harm recurs with such a high degree of frequency for patients. They then suggest another method to get at understanding and the following question is implied Can photo elicitation help providers understand reasons for self-harm (Edmonson et al., 2018)?Lastly, hypotheses are often explicitly stated in quantitative studies, and they indicate an expected relationship between variables. Westling and colleagues (2019, para. 4) indicate their hypothesis within one of the aims of the research. They aim to determine if self-referral increases individuals daily functioning and reduces their frequency of self-harm. Self referral, daily functioning and frequency of self-harm are variables and there are two causal, directional relationships being studied. Qualitative studies may not have a stated hypothesis, given the nature of the research. There was no prediction made regarding photo elicitation, for example, as the researchers simply wanted to explore its use in interviewing people who self-harm (Edmonson et al., 2019).ReferencesEdmondson, A. J., Brennan, C., & House, A. O. (2018). Using photo-elicitation to understand reasons for repeated self-harm: a qualitative study. BMC Psychiatry, 18(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-018-1681-3Gray, J. R., & Grove, S. K. (2021). Burns and Grove’s the practice of nursing research: appraisal, synthesis, and generation of evidence. Elsevier.Westling, S., Daukantaite, D., Liljedahl, S. I., Oh, Y., Westrin, Å., Flyckt, L., & Helleman, M. (2019). Effect of brief admission to hospital by self-referral for individuals who self-harm and are at risk of suicide. JAMA Network Open, 2(6). https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.5463less
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