Research is an integral part of graduate and postgraduate teaching programs in the health sciences. Therefore, knowledge of research methodology and biostatistics is essential for students pursuing a course in various health science disciplines. In addition, doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals involved in patient care can offer their services more effectively if they have a practical knowledge of research methodology to evaluate the original literature in order to better apply it to evidence-based patient care.
In the past few decades, there has been a rapid increase in the volume of published medical literature. Along with this, the number of the statistical tests, techniques, and computer software used in research have also increased significantly; however, only a few of these tests and techniques are actually used in the vast majority of articles published. Therefore, students of the health sciences must keep themselves up to date on the developments in biostatistics, not just to understand the published literature better, but also to know which statistical test or technique is appropriate in a particular situation.
This book intends to introduce research methodology and biostatistics with the minimum use of math and statistical formulas in an attempt to make it user-friendly. It describes the concepts underlying such tests and formulas and their application to critically appraise the medical literature without going into the statistical details of such tests.
The book is broadly divided into two parts: the first describes the principles of research methodology and the second deals with the basic concepts of biostatistics. The initial chapters of Part 1 provide an easy approach to research methodology, including descriptive, analytical, and experimental studies and clinical trials. The other important contents of Part 1 include chapters on the approach to qualitative research, literature searching and tracking the best clinical evidence, and the principles of biomedical ethics relevant to research and publication, followed by a chapter on how to write a scientific article.
Part 2 introduces the concepts of descriptive statistics and further elaborates on the various aspects of inferential statistics and its application in biomedical research. In addition, an approach to sample-size determination for different types of studies and some of the commonly used statistical tests are briefly discussed. The various statistical concepts are explained, as far as possible, with examples from articles published in biomedical journals to make the reader appreciate the practical applicability of these concepts in actual research that they intend to undertake.
This book is meant for students pursuing a course in the health sciences—medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmaceutical sciences, physiotherapy, and other allied branches—to understand the concepts of research methodology and biostatistics. Further, it is also intended for scholars of the various disciplines in health sciences who are involved in research and will serve as a quick reference for the teachers who are mentoring their work. Health care professionals, including doctors, dental surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, physiotherapists, and others, will also find this book useful in their day-to-day clinical decision making in patient care. Finally, any other person interested in health care and its research will find the book useful.
I hope this book serves its purpose to help readers grasp the concepts of research methodology and biostatistics presented in an easily understandable format and use these concepts in their academic and professional activities.
Prasanta K. Bhattacharya, MD, PhD, FACP, FICP.