Meaghan, with growing interest in type 2 diabetes, joins a support group at the local chapter of the Canadian Diabetes Association. Here, she meets several of the association’s health sciences researchers. After several visits, Meaghan begins to develop some research questions regarding the causes and potential treatments for type 2 diabetes.

One of the health sciences researchers explains to her that there are certain aspects of type 2 diabetes that are understood, but many that aren’t; the aspects that aren’t understood are the subjects of studies being conducted so that fewer people will develop type 2 diabetes and so that those who do develop it can be treated more effectively.

Meaghan asks how she could keep up to date with the findings of the studies being conducted. The researcher identifies experiments as an important way in which more information is being learned, and explains how to search the scientific literature for current studies. The researcher cautions that not all published studies are created equal. Therefore, Meaghan needs to evaluate each study for the appropriateness of its design, methods, analysis, and interpretation of the data, and whether the conclusions match what is found.

After reading Meaghan’s case study, answer the following questions.

1. The researcher identifies “experimental studies” as one way that research is conducted. How are experimental research designs different from “observational” designs?

2. Identify and describe the two broad types of experimental study designs. What is the key difference between these two types of studies?

3. The researcher didn’t mention observational studies, but these are also valuable designs in quantitative research. Identify and explain one observational study design.

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Discussion: Meaghan’s Case

1. The researcher identifies “experimental studies” as one way that research is conducted. How are experimental research designs different from “observational” designs?

One way of conducting research in medicine is through experimental studies. In experimental studies, investigators or researchers apply treatment (e.g. administers a certain drug) to a designated number of test subjects and then observes the effects of such treatment. Experimental studies can be conducted either in laboratories (in vitro or in vivo) or in hospital or community settings. Experimental studies which are carried out on human subjects are called clinical trials (Bland, 2015, p. 5).

Observational studies are another way of conducting research. Researchers in observational studies do not assess the results of administered treatment. Instead, they observe and measure the existing conditions and try to figure out what is going on. The majority of medical studies (causes and distribution of illnesses, researching physiological processes in healthy people, etc.) are conducted as observational studies (Bland, 2015, p. 25)....

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