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Health research methodology: A guide for training in research methods

HEALTH RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
A Guide for Training in Research Methods
Second Edition

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
Regional Office for the Western Pacific
Manila, 2001

i

CONTENTS
Foreword

v

Introduction

vii

Acknowledgements

ix

Chapter 1: Introduction to research

1

Chapter 2: Research strategies and design

11

Chapter 3: Descriptive epidemiological studies and clinical trials

43

Chapter 4: Experimental studies and clinical trials

55

Chapter 5: Sampling methods and sampling size

71

Chapter 6: Bias and confounding

85

Chapter 7: Basic risk measurement

97

Chapter 8: Tests of significance

107

Chapter 9: Association and causation

125

Chapter 10: Ethical aspects of health research

141

Chapter 11: Construction of a research proposal

147

Annexes:
Annex 1:

Questionnaire design

169

Annex 2:

Descriptive statistics: Table, graphs, and charts

187

Annex 3:

Organization of a workshop on research
methods in health sciences

211

Index

232

Health research methodology: A guide for training in research methods

WHO Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Health Research Methodology: A guide for training in research methods. Second Edition.
1. Health services research - methods.
2. Research design.
I. World Health Organization. Regional Office for the Western Pacific ISBN 92 9061 157 X

The World Health Organization welcomes requests for permission to reproduce or translate its publications, in part or in full. Applications and enquiries should be addressed to the Office of Publications, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland or to the Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Manila, Philippines, which will be glad to provide the latest information on any changes made to the text, plans for new editions, and reprints and translations already available.

© World Health Organization 2001
Publications of the World Health Organization enjoy copyright protection in accordance with the provisions of Protocol 2 of the Universal Copyright Convention. All rights reserved. The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the World Health Organization concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The mention of specific companies or of certain manufacturers’ products does not imply that they are endorsed or recommended by the World Health Organization in preference to others of a similar nature that are not mentioned. Errors and omissions excepted, the names of proprietary products are distinguished by initial capital letters.

ii

Health research methodology: A guide for training in research methods

FOREWORD

Scientific research plays a very important role in our efforts to maintain health and combating diseases. Research helps us create new knowledge and develop proper tools for the use of existing knowledge. Not only does it enable health care providers to diagnose and treat diseases, research also provides evidence for policies and decisions on health and development.

WHO and its Member States are aware of the importance of
research. However, health research has not been a priority in many developing countries in the Region. The lack of research methodology and the absence of qualified researchers hinder many developing countries to conduct health research by themselves. In many

countries, the system for management and coordination of health research has not been established or is not functioning properly. WHO is committed to stimulating scientific research in
developing countries. An articulate and clearly defined WHO
framework and vision on research and partnership with Member States will...
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