Recovery time among high-school athletes
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The choice of sample size depends on multiple factors, including research designs, goals, and objectives, as well as the availability of eligible participants (Clark, Berger, & Mansmann, 2013). The sufficient sample size for the study will be 100 participants, of which half will be first-time concussion patients, and the other half will be those who had a concussion before. The present research focuses on high school athletes, and thus the two key inclusion criteria are current enrolment in a high school and participation in sports. To ensure that potential participants fit the chosen criteria, the researcher will ask them to fill in a short survey.
The survey will contain questions about the participants’ age, school name, sports affiliation, and the number of concussions suffered in life. This information will help to establish the independent variable for each participant. Another essential inclusion criterion is that the suitable participants need to have an established diagnosis of concussion. The exclusion criteria for the present research are severe injuries besides a concussion, critical chronic diseases, or autoimmune conditions that could affect their recovery time. Participants who take drugs affecting brain function or sports performance will also be excluded from the sample to avoid inconsistency in the results.
The recruitment will take place in hospitals or emergency departments where high school athletes with head trauma are admitted. In this case, all teenage students admitted to the facility because of a head injury will be considered potential participants for the study, but only those diagnosed with a concussion will be included. Each potential participant will then fill in a survey to determine if they fit other inclusion criteria.
Probability sampling, such as simple random or stratified sampling, would be the ideal option for this research (Jacobsen, 2017). However, given that the number of available would probably be limited, convenience sampling should also be considered. If convenience sampling is used, all the available participants would be involved in the study, thus increasing the sample size. Based on the notes above, the sampling method should be as follows.
The researcher will first collect data on every available participant who fits the criteria for inclusion. If the number of participants exceeds 150 by the time the preliminary stage of the research, stratified sampling will be applied. The available subjects will be separated into two groups depending on the number of concussions suffered, and then 50 subjects from each group will be chosen at random. This method will allow ensuring a sufficient number of participants without affecting the validity and reliability of data.
A short survey will be distributed to all potential subjects to make sure that they fit the criteria specified above. The survey will ask the following questions:
- What is your age?
- Are you currently a high school student?
- Do you take part in school sports? If so, which sport(s) do you participate in?
- Have you ever been diagnosed with a concussion before?
The survey will serve the purpose of obtaining factual information about the potential participants, and thus its validity and reliability will largely depend on whether or not the participants are responding truthfully. The survey can be checked for validity and reliability by comparing the participants’ responses with information in their hospital records. An example of this survey can be found in the Appendix.
To perform a successful data analysis, it will be necessary to use statistical software. Excel could be a helpful tool for performing correlation and regression analyses. However, using a professional statistical analysis program, such as SPSS, will help to complete the analyses quicker and more accurately. Thus, SPSS or a similar statistical software will be required for the study.
Computers are the only required hardware for the study, as they are needed to produce a statistical analysis of data and prepare the report for publication. A computer can also be used to create tables or graphs necessary to represent the results correctly. The chosen computer must support the software selected for the study (e.g., SPSS or Excel) and allow for sufficient data protection (e.g., protected by a password or data encryption).
To fulfill the purpose of the present research, a quantitative design would be most appropriate. On the one hand, it would enable the researcher to include large amounts of numerical data to determine the correlation between the number of concussions suffered in life and the recovery time (Salvador, 2016). On the other hand, it would allow including more participants, providing an opportunity to generalize findings to other populations. The procedure of quantitative research design comprises the preparation for research, data collection, and data analysis. All of these steps will be explained in the present section.
To prepare for the study, it is critical to acquire support from hospitals and clinics where school athletes with head injury are diagnosed and treated. The researcher will submit a research proposal and obtain permission from hospital employees to survey the participants and access their medical information, including diagnosis and recovery time. If more than one institution is included, it is also necessary to ensure that the formats of their records match, and that the recovery time is calculated by the same method.
Thus, the researcher will ask institutions to provide information about the electronic health record software used in the facility and the possibility of data sharing. The researcher will also send printed copies of the survey to all institutions to obtain approval. If the research uses any outside resources, such as grants, they will have to be obtained during the preparation stage.
The second step of the study is the data collection process, which will be separated into three stages. First of all, all potential participants will be approached in person and will be asked to fill in an informed consent form and a survey to determine their eligibility. This will be a one-time meeting and there will be no need to visit the participants in person again. Secondly, for eligible participants, information about past concussions will be accessed through their medical records. Based on this information, the participants will be separated into two groups. The first group will include first time concussion patients, whereas the second group will include patients who had suffered more than one concussion in life. Thirdly, the recovery time for eligible participants will be recorded based on hospital medical records.
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In determining the recovery time, the study will rely on the physician’s use of relevant tools, such as the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT) or the Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC) tool. Physicians will be asked to record the participants’ recovery progress in the hospital’s medical records, which will be accessed to determine the recovery time of each patient. These three steps will be repeated for all new patients that fit the age and diagnostic criteria for the duration of the study.
Once the data collection period ends and the sufficient sample size is reached, the researcher will begin data analysis. The information on the two research variables will be included in one file, with patient names replaced with consecutive numbers to ensure confidentiality. The first set of data will include the number of concussions suffered in life, and the second set of data will be the participants’ recovery time as recorded by their physician. The data will then be analyzed using statistical software, such as SPSS.
Correlation analysis, regression analysis, and descriptive statistics results will be obtained for the two sets of data. The p-value will be set at 0.05, which is a standard significance level in health research studies (Jacobsen, 2017). The central hypothesis to be tested is that the recovery time of high school athletes who had suffered more than one concussion in life will be longer than of those suffering their first concussion.
The null hypothesis is that the recovery time of high school athletes who had suffered more than one concussion in life will be the same as of those suffering their first concussion. Thus, the p-value at or above 0.05 will support the central hypothesis and reject the null hypothesis. On the contrary, if the p-value resulting from the analysis will be less than 0.05, the null hypothesis will be confirmed. Descriptive statistics will be used to determine the mean recovery time among patients in each study group and the standard deviation.
The first variable for the present research will be the number of concussions diagnosed in life. The choice of the variable is based on research hypotheses, as well as the possibility of operationalizing the variable. The number of concussions diagnosed in life can be represented in numerical form, which suits the purpose of the present research. The second variable is recovery time, as it is the main outcome addressed in research hypotheses. The recovery time will be measured in the number of days passed from the date of injury and the date of recovery. Thus, the independent variable can also be operationalized and analyzed using quantitative research methods.
The validity and reliability of the measures will be addressed as part of the research to ensure a high quality of the study. With respect to validity, content and construct validity of both variables will be assessed based on their coverage and homogeneity. As Heale and Twycross (2015) explain, coverage and homogeneity of variables depend on whether or not the variable measures the concept correctly. For instance, the independent variable has good content and construct validity if it covers one concept comprehensively.
The reliability of the chosen variables will be evaluated through inter-rater reliability. Inter-rater reliability test is a process of determining whether or not the variables have the same numerical value if assessed by two or more different observers (Heale & Twycross, 2015). As part of the test, the medical information of the participants will be given to two independent observers, who will have to determine the dependent and independent variable scores. The results will then be compared to ensure equivalence.
There are three sections of American Psychological Association’s ethical guidelines that apply to the proposed research. First of all, Section 8 of the APA Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct (APA, 2017) stresses the importance of institutional approval and informed consent. In order to ensure compliance with this section of the guidelines, institutional approval will be received prior to beginning research.
In addition, each potential participant will receive an informed consent form containing all relevant details about the study. If the participant is a minor, their parent or guardian will sign the informed consent form. Participants who refuse to sign the informed consent form, as well as minors whose parents or guardians refuse to provide consent to their participation, will be excluded from the study, and no information about them will be recorded. These steps will help to assure that the subjects are aware of the goals of and procedures involved in the study and participate in the study willingly.
Another important consideration is the need for protecting the participants’ privacy and confidentiality. In accordance with APA (2017) guidelines, the researcher will seek to protect the participant’s privacy and confidentiality by not recording identifying information of the patients. Identifying information includes names, addresses, school affiliation, and other details that can be used to distinguish a participant from people of similar age and gender.
Instead of names, the researcher will use consecutive numbers to differentiate between participants in all data reports and documents. The medical information obtained from doctors’ records will be stored on the researcher’s computer in a separate document protected by a password. The procedures specified above will ensure sufficient protection of privacy and confidentiality, preventing data leaks or unwanted disclosure of personal information.
American Psychological Association (APA). (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and Code of Conduct. Web.
Clark, T., Berger, U., & Mansmann, U. (2013). Sample size determinations in original research protocols for randomised clinical trials submitted to UK research ethics committees. BMJ, 346(f1135), 1-10.
Heale, R., & Twycross, A. (2015). Validity and reliability in quantitative studies. Evidence-Based Nursing, 18(3), 66-67.
Jacobsen, K. H. (2017). Introduction to health research methods: A practical guide (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Salvador, J. T. (2016). Exploring quantitative and qualitative methodologies: A guide to novice nursing researchers. European Scientific Journal, 12(18), 107-122.