Quantitative Methods in Health Research - SO955

Sorry, this module is not currently running in 2019-20.







Choosing and designing the most appropriate method to address a clinical question is paramount in generating the best evidence. The aims of this module are to equip students with the requisite skills to apply the scientific approach and the basics of critical appraisal to quantitative methods used within the context of research evaluating health care interventions. This should enable participants to formulate research ideas and identify appropriate methods with which to test their hypotheses. They will also become ‘critical consumers’ of research with the knowledge and understanding necessary to evaluate research appropriately.

The module provides an introduction to a range quantitative research methods that are commonly used within applied health research including secondary (systematic reviews and meta-analysis) and primary methods (cohort studies, case control and randomised controlled trials). Much of the module will be devoted to providing an overview of the development pathway for interventions within the context of randomised controlled trials. Students will learn about the techniques of trial design and the role and importance of discrete projects for the demonstration of ‘proof of concept’, feasibility, efficacy, and effectiveness.

As students learn to identify the strengths and weaknesses of 6 key study designs, they will also learn how to design a research protocol. Participants will design data collection and analysis. They will also learn strategies to manage bias and assess the quality of published research. The module includes exposure to the techniques involved in analysing quantitative data, as well as considering ethical and governance issues relating to research within the context of the NHS.

Each week students are provided with research articles that are compulsory reading for discussion in seminars/workshops. Each reading provides an example of methods as used in research, their potential in addressing specific kinds of research questions, and their relevance for evaluating health interventions.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

The module will be composed of 11 lecture hours, 11 seminar hours plus 2 hours spent during reading week to consolidate teaching, and 176 independent study hours. In total 200 study hours will spent on the module by students which is commensurate for a 20 credit module.



Method of assessment

Assessment will be by way of two written assignments and one verbal presentation.

The first assignment will be a critical review of a proposed study. This will be assessed as a written assignment of 2000 words (40%). The students will be asked to provide methodological criticism and advice.

The second assignment will be to devise a study protocol. This will be assessed by way of a written assignment (3000 words) (50%) and verbal presentation (not more than 10 minutes) (10%).

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Sackett D. L, Straus S E, Richardson W S,.Rosenberg W, and Haynes R B Evidence-Based Medicine: How to Practice and Teach EBM. Churchill Livingstone (2000).

Greenhalgh T, How to read a paper; the basics of evidence-based medicine (2010) Wiley-Blackwell.

Pocock, S. J. (1983). Clinical trials: a practical approach. Chichester, John Wiley.

Higgins, J.P.T., and Green, S. (eds) (2008). Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Oxford, The Cochrane Collaboration. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

Senn S (2002) Cross-over Trials in Clinical Research (2nd Ed) John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Coolican H (2013) Research Methods and Statistics in Psychology (5th Ed) Routledge.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course of study, the student should be able to:

Demonstrate an understanding of the fundamental concepts in quantitative research methods, including an ability to describe the relationship between uncertainty, a research question, hypotheses, the hierarchy of research methods and research methods and the most common forms of bias in applied health research;

Confidently and constructively appraise quantitative methods for answering a variety of research questions by demonstrating an ability to identify the value and limitations in any particular method;

Explain the main ethical dilemmas facing applied health researchers;

Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of well-formulated research questions and their relation to project initiation, including selecting valid quantitative methods; and an ability to formulate a specific and precise question that defines a topic as relevant, researchable and important;

Understand the statistical aspects of published research, interpreting statistical output in relation to hypothesis testing.

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