Thesis Sounding Board

  1. Well, the dreaded semester has begun: Intro to the Thesis Project.

    I'm early in the stages here and was hoping to bounce off some ideas related to my possible thesis topic.

    First, I am most likely headed into the qualitative direction. Why? Well for starters, math was not my strong suit and secondly, it seems the nature of my problem statements all seem to have a qualitative approach.

    Second, I'm struggling on whether or not I should peform a lit review before deciding on a final problem statement. I've read that sometimes that contributes to bias, especially in a qualitative design.

    Here's what I was thinking of, so far. If anyone has any experience in these topic areas or, knows that there already is an abundance of research out there related to it, I'd like to hear it.

    First one: The nature/meaning of relapse in recovering alcoholics. This hits close to home for me because of my father, so the problem itself is quite interesting. I'd like to do a qualitative design with this one to determine any patterns of responses, possibly leading to a theory.

    Second one: Minority groups perception of research involvement. This thought came to me because, as a research nurse, I observe barriers between the African Americans I am to enroll in my study and myself. There seems to be a mistrust. I'd like to explore that further. Again, qualitative design.

    Third one: Arresting Pre Term Labor: The Nurse's Influence on Preventing Readmission. PTL is very near and dear to me clinically, as this was my area of expertise, if you will, in L&D. This problem seems to lend itself towards quantitative, but I'm not so sure. In this problem I'd like to explore how adequately educated and trained nurses can assist patients in managing their PTL (when discharged to home on oral terbutaline, for example) so that readmissions are less likely to occur once terb has been DC'd.

    Thoughts?

    I appreciate it. Thanks!
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  2. 43 Comments

  3. by   hoolahan
    They all sound good to me Susy. I would stick to the one you know the most about. Sounds to me like that would be the PTL, the more you know, the easier it should be. Why make it hard for yourself??
  4. by   researchrabbit
    Doing what you know is easier and less stress. But may be hard to finish because your interest level may not be as high.

    Doing what you may not know quite as well may be more challenging. And challenging is not always stressful -- sometimes it's fun. And you will be sleeping, eating and breathing this subject in your spare time, so it may help you finish if you feel really interested.

    Depends on what motivates you...

    The best research often gets done for love of the subject matter.

    BTW, all 3 prospective titles sound good.

    I guess another consideration is how you plan to gather data when you get past your lit review. How will you gather data, where will you go to gather it, and how long will it take? If one of your subject areas lends itself to easy data collection, that will eliminate something that often is hugely frustating.
    Last edit by researchrabbit on Feb 4, '03
  5. by   Stargazer
    Originally posted by Susy K
    Second, I'm struggling on whether or not I should peform a lit review before deciding on a final problem statement. I've read that sometimes that contributes to bias, especially in a qualitative design.
    Well, I don't have a post-grad degree, so I'm asking this out of genuine ignorance as well:

    Your point about predetermining bias is valid. But doesn't it make sense to do at least a cursory lit review before getting heavily invested in a topic, only to find that there isn't much published on it and you actually have fewer resources than you need?
  6. by   WashYaHands
    They all sound fascinating. I'll agree with those who suggested doing a topic that is the most interest to you and that you know most about. Also might consider the ease/difficulty/accessibility of the sample for each study. Good luck! I'm here if you need me for moral support. I can sometimes use some myself.

    Linda
  7. by   llg
    Another thought: Which topic relates best to the type of work you would like to be doing in the future? If you're going to spend a lot of time on a project, wouldn't it be better when you are done to have something that will be a good foundation for your future work? I really wish that my dissertation topic was related to the work I do now (but that's a long story.)

    About the preterm labor topic: I agree with you, the way you have described your topic, it's leaning a bit toward quantitative as opposed to qualitative. However, I'm sure you could tweak it to get it to fit better into a qualitative perspective.

    The issue is that your stated goal is to reduce the readmission rate. That means "counting" the readmission rate. In other words, you have given yourself a quantitative outcome variable. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but it means a quantitative study. If you really want to stay qualitative, you will need to ask a qualitative question and quit thinking about "measuring outcomes." For example, you could do a phenomenological study on the relationship between the nurse and the patient or on the experience of going home after having PTL. You could use a grounded theory approach to study the process of coping with PTL post discharge and identify the resources that patients find helpful (which hopefully, would include the nurse.) Those are just a few ideas off the top of my head ... but I hope you can see what I mean by needing to change your perspective and question if you want to go qual vs quant.

    Finally, about reading the literature. My thoughts are to read the literature ... but for the opposite reason than the one suggested above. If you don't find much literature, then the field is probably a good choice for a qualitative study. If you find lots of previous research, then it may or may not be a suitable topic. It would be a shame to spend all your time researching a topic that has already been "done to death."

    Good luck! Keep us posted. You know you will find plenty of us willing to offer our thoughts. I love this stuff!

    llg
  8. by   Edward,IL
    These days, when doing any research in nursing, please use the languages of nursing so that it can be shared meaningfully with other nurses. As you review the literature, please do be biased in the direction of nursing. I'm tired of reading papers, studies etc. done from a psychological, sociological or any other discipline other than nursing.
    To undrestand the languages of nursing (and provide you with excellent wording for problem statement, focal interventions and nursing-sensitive patient outcomes, read the following:
    Nursing Diagnosis, Marjory Gordon (she has writtne several texts)
    Nursing Interventions Classification, McCloskey and Bulecheck
    Nursing Outcomes Classification, Merideann Maas et al
    Nursing Diagnosis Links, Martha Craft-Rosenberg
    These texts should be available in your university bookstore, on the internet at C.V. Mosby, and/or visit the web site at Nanda.org
  9. by   Edward,IL
    These days, when doing any research in nursing, please use the languages of nursing so that it can be shared meaningfully with other nurses. As you review the literature, please do be biased in the direction of nursing. I'm tired of reading papers, studies etc. done from a psychological, sociological or any perspective other than nursing.
    To understand the languages of nursing (and provide you with excellent wording for problem statement, focal interventions and nursing-sensitive patient outcomes, read the following:
    Nursing Diagnosis, Marjory Gordon (she has written several texts)
    Nursing Interventions Classification, McCloskey and Bulecheck
    Nursing Outcomes Classification, Merideann Maas et al
    Nursing Diagnosis Links, Martha Craft-Rosenberg
    These texts should be available in your university bookstore, on the internet at C.V. Mosby, and/or visit the web site at Nanda.org
  10. by   Q.
    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

    llg,
    I know what you mean about picking a topic that is in line with what I want to do later or "when I grow up." Thing is, I'm not sure. I know that if I did anything clinically, it would most likely be with obstetrics. If I taught, I would like it to be that as well. If I went the patient education or staff development role, well, then it doesn't quite matter.

    As a matter of fact, I tried so hard to think of a topic related to OB, and tried to narrow it down to my area of expertise. PTL is very fascinating and I know there are numerous factors which contribute to it's incidence, but why the readmission rates? Anyway, that's what led me down that path to the PTL problem statement.

    I keep leaning towards the relapse question. I think because honest to god, I want to know. I did a small lit search on the topic and most of the research out there is physiologically based, or based on some more measureable variables that are classified, like self-worth, etc, and after implementing specific relapse prevention programs. Also it's highly medically based - not much in the nursing literature that I could find so far.

    Someone else mentioned ease of access to the populations I would need to do the study. I think all three are all relatively easy. I work on the campus of a regional medical center which includes an inpatient psychiatric hospital as well as outpatient crisis center. With the "barriers to research" question, I'm already involved in recruiting subjects in a low-income, minority neighborhood so I am already in touch with them; and with the "PTL question", again, by the nature of my job I have an office just outside of the NICU and L&D units of the largest Perinatal Center in my city. So the issue of population access doesn't seem to be one, at least from my perspective.

    And precisely llg, I don't want to do a topic that's been "done to death." So even with qualitative studies, you recommend a full lit review?
    Last edit by Susy K on Feb 4, '03
  11. by   llg
    Originally posted by Susy K


    And precisely llg, I don't want to do a topic that's been "done to death." So even with qualitative studies, you recommend a full lit review?
    I do. However, there is no need to go into all the physiology "big time" and indepth if your study is not going to emphasize that. For example, if you were going to study the lived experience of going home after PTL, you shouldn't need to go into a discussion of much physiology at all. You could try to connect emotional distress to reoccurance of PTL and the need for readmission ... but even that might not be necessary if your study was really focused on just "what it is like" to be living at home after having been in the hospital with PTL. The purpose of such a study is to illuminate the experience lived by those patients so that care givers can be more sensitive to their possible needs -- not to "find a cure" for reoccurance.

    I had a friend do her doctoral dissertation on the lived experience of women with breast cancer. I doubt there was much, if any, physiology of breast cancer in her project. Her project wasn't about the physiology: it was about how the women felt and coped.

    Have you done much reading of qualitative studies? You might want to go to your school's library and read the theses and dissertations of people who used the methodology that you are interested in. (Most schools require that a copy of all theses and dissertations be given to the library for a permanent record.) Students sometimes neglect to do that. Even if the topic is totally unrelated to yours, the other person's work can help you learn the METHOD and answer the kinds of questions that you are asking.

    llg
  12. by   maureeno
    I'm not trying to overcomplicate but wouldn't it be useful and interesting to study
    minority populations perception of nursing influence in preventing PTL?
  13. by   llg
    Originally posted by maureeno
    I'm not trying to overcomplicate but wouldn't it be useful and interesting to study
    minority populations perception of nursing influence in preventing PTL?
    Good question ... but how do we know what the appropriate minority is in this population? Perhaps, white women are the minority in this case ... or women over 35 ... or tall women ... whatever.

    If the question has never been studied before and Suzy decides to do qualitative study, what rationale would there be to pick one race (and I assume you mean racial minority) over another? She might want to pick one type of pregnant woman (e.g. adolescents ... or women with other children in the home), but there are lots of different sub-categories to consider in this case. There is no reason to believe at this point that race is a more significant factor to this topic than are some of the other factors I have named. In fact, I would bet that whether or not the woman has other small children in the home is more important than race to this topic.

    llg
  14. by   maureeno
    Black and native americans have high rates of prematurity, I was thinking maybe Susy could learn something which could help make more effective preventative nursing interventions.

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