Journal Article Research Critique

Topics: Comorbidity, Oncology, Fisher's exact test Pages: 6 (1780 words) Published: October 25, 2008
Journal Article Research Critique by C. O’Neal

MBA 532 UA – Quantitative Business Analysis

Instructor:Dr. Ed Ohlson

Cheryl O’Neal


Journal Article Research Critique by C. O’Neal


Cancer patients experience a variety of symptoms that are associated with the disease process itself and with the treatment regimens used to control or eradicate the disease. The authors (Bender, Engberg, Donovan, Cohen, Houze, Rosenzweig, Mallory, Dunbar-Jacob, & Sereika, 2008) in their study, Symptom clusters in adults with chronic health problems and cancer as a comorbidity, have attempted to discover symptom clusters that have may have been nestled in the data retrieved in two previous studies involving rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers and individuals with urinary incontinence (UI). The Bender et al. (2008) stated their research purpose was:

…to identify and compare symptom clusters in individuals with chronic health problems with cancer versus individuals with chronic health problems who do not have cancer. The secondary aim was to compare the number and types of comorbid chronic health problems for individuals with and without a history of cancer and to explore the effect of symptoms on QOL. (p.E3)

Substantive Qualities

The above quoted statement is misleading. The sample that was examined had a history of cancer but the opening statement, “Patients with cancer frequently experience multiple symptoms concurrently.” (Bender et al., 2008, p.E1) indicates the patients had a current diagnosis of cancer and that the research would look at patients who currently had cancer in addition to another chronic health problem. This author realizes that this may seem like an insignificant issue, but in reality, the symptom clusters that would be expected in a cohort currently undergoing treatment for cancer could be expected to be significantly different than the symptom clusters found in cohorts that have completed treatment and are five to 10 years beyond treatment. Cancer can certainly be considered a chronic health problem in some instances and perhaps a sample of patients with a current diagnosis of cancer would have been a better fit for the objectives that were stated. Or perhaps adding the qualifying phrase “history of” would have served to help clarify the true objective of the study. In addition, the use of the word comorbidity, indicating simultaneous, (Neufeldt & Sparks, 1995) in the title and the body of the text further confuses the issue. If the cohorts had a history of cancer then they would not necessarily have a simultaneous diagnosis.

Study Design Qualities

The statement of purpose was not posed as a hypothesis of any sort, null or alternative. The proper hypothesis would have indicated the direction that the study was expected to take. Did the researchers expect to find specific symptom clusters that were exclusive to the cancer history individuals? Or were the symptom clusters expected to be more severe in the cancer survivors than in the general chronic health population? The hypothesis could have been: there will be no significant difference between the symptom clusters of patients with a previous diagnosis of cancer with a chronic health problem as compared to patients with a chronic health problem that has never been diagnosed with cancer.

Additionally, the hypothesis should have included the parameters for statistical significance. The Bender et al. (2008) go to great lengths to describe the statistical processes used to evaluate the exploratory endeavor, but failed to disclose whether the parameters had been set before the study was begun which would have been the proper form.

The literature search is supportive of the goal of this research. The review found several studies that supported the conclusion that individuals with a history of cancer do experience...

References: Easton, Valerie J., & McColl, John J. (1997, September). Statistics Glossary v1.1. Retrieved from:
Neufeldt, Victoria, & Sparks, Andrew N. (Eds.) (1995). Webster’s New World™ dictionary. New York, NY: Prentice Hall/Macmillan.
Reyes-Giggy, C.C., Aday, L.A., Anderson, K.O., Mendoza, T.R. & Cleeland, C.S. (2006). Pain, depression, and fatigue in community-dwelling adults with and without a history of cancer. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 32(2), 118-128.
Weisstein, Eric W. (2008). Fisher 's exact test. MathWorld--A Wolfram Web Resource. Retrieved March 7, 2008 from:
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