Critiquing Evaluation Criteria for Qualitative Research Article

The title of the article selected is The Challenge of Appropriate Identification and Treatment of Starvation, Sarcopenia, and Cachexia: A Survey of Australian Dietitians, the authors, is Alison Yaxley and Michelle D. Miller; and fortunately, it has author’s credentials to let us know more about them, and give us more credibility on the literature review.

The title is clear, including area of study (Australia) and group studied (dietitians). The purpose of this study is evidently presented and discussed the importance of the problem, and as they stated that the aim was to determine if Australian dietitians understand and use the terms starvation, sarcopenia and cachexia, and provide targeted treatment strategies accordingly. They added “there is a need for increased awareness of the existence of starvation, sarcopenia, and cachexia among Australian dietitians and researches into appropriate methods of identification and treatment for each condition” at the end of the abstract. Researchers also provide an idea of ​​what they are doing and why it can give useful importance to evaluate the appropriate diagnosis in the elderly. There is no philosophical underpinning of the research described, but they remitted to Guidelines used in practice, including the DAA, that take a necessary tactic to malnutrition when focusing on starvation or malnutrition alone, without mention cachexia or sarcopenia.

The purpose of conducting research is made explicit at the beginning of the abstract, describing the project significance in the health field, especially in the dietitians in this study.

The methods used to collect data were through an anonymous cross-sectional survey of members of the DAA, to gain information on their practices regarding the diagnosis and treatment of different malnutrition in the elderly. All the members were required to be graduated from a tertiary program level, and they were invited to participate via email and to access to a webpage where there was a questionnaire to be answered. The method used was adequate to address the phenomenon of interest because they resorted to database of Dietitians Association of Australia. The particular approach used to guide the inquiry was the method used, every participant was invited to participate via weekly email from DAA in August 2010; it notified them about a link to answer a questionnaire and provided information on the survey. The participants were asked to answer the survey by selecting the appropriate answers from random-ordered lists provided and giving further comments where was necessary. The researchers described the selection of participants, and the informants in this study were participants themselves.

The data collection was focused on dietitians’ experience on the theme. The researchers described very well strategies for data collection; it was a survey through a questionnaire, with a maximum of 42 questions, dependent on responses that were given, from a link in a website.The Social and Behavioral Research Ethics Committee of Flinders University approved the protocol on this research, and Informed consent was implied upon completion of the survey. Researchers were blinded to respondent’s identities. Saturation of the data was not described, but it was implied due to two hundred and twenty-one DAA members including three students, were the participants. The procedures of collecting data were made explicit.

The strategies and procedures to analyze data were described. Survey data responses, as the researchers stated, were analyzed using Survey Monkey and IBM SPSS Statistics, version 19.0.0. The reporter of descriptive statistics was done as frequencies and percentages. The Chi-squared test was used to compare case study responses for selected subgroups of study participants. Statistical significance was set at P 0.05. The procedures used to analyze data can be understood without problems.

Credibility, auditability, and fittingness are addressed in this study. There is credibility in this study; the participants recognized the experience as their own. But “the diagnosis criteria used in the questionnaires were based on consensus definitions which have not yet been validated however they were developed by leading experts in the field and therefore likely to be proved to be valid and reliable in future work”. The readers can follow the thinking of the researcher and can increase it with the view of the tables to help better understand the report. The research process is documented in Materials, Methods and Result sections.

The results of this study are meaningful to individuals not involved in the research. The findings are applicable outside the study situation because sarcopenia does not have a consensus yet about its definitions; the same problem stated in this study happens in nursing’ and doctor’s fields, despite it was explicit in the survey. Often it is a diagnosis that goes unnoticed with other characteristics, but by itself is capable of producing disabilities to death. The readers can be able to apprehend the essence of the experience from the report of the findings.

The researcher’s conceptualizations are accurate to the data, but we must mention that the majority of the participant’s responders in the study were young and had been practicing for a short time and worked only in metropolitan public hospitals, and it could be a limitation in the data interpretation. It would have been more interesting than the sample used was more heterogeneous, working in different places (public and privates), different ages and participating for a long time.

The researchers stated that “more work is warranted to explore how dietitians might expand existing or collaborate to develop new screening and/or assessment tools to assist in differentiating sarcopenia, cachexia, and starvation, contribute to the evidence base for appropriate treatment strategies, and determine the cost-effectiveness of this change in practice”. There is no conclusion paragraph on this study, only a discussion one, and on it was reflected the conclusions about the findings and the further investigations topics related to it. The significance of the study to nursing was not explicit, but it is applicable because sarcopenia does not have a consensus yet about its definitions; the same problem stated in this study happens in nursing’ and doctor’s fields, despite it was explicit in the survey.

The researchers used the APA format in this study. A complete list of references was included using APA style format.


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