Experiments, experience and exorcism! Overcoming the practical difficulties involved in RCTS within nursing

Julie Kapur, Donna Fitzsimons

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Abstract

Randomised controlled trials (RCT) are an
important means of testing the effectiveness of
nursing interventions. This paper and draws on
practical experience to demonstrate the
appropriateness of this method and discuss the
key issues involved.

Smoking has been high on the public health
agenda since the publication of “Smoking Kills”
(DoH, 1997) and the national smoking cessation
guidelines (BTS, 1998; West 2000). A systematic
review concluded that nurses can significantly
increase smoking cessation rates (Rice, 2002) but
the nature and relative effectiveness of different
nursing interventions has yet to be tested.

The aim of this study was to test the
effectiveness of selected nursing interventions on
smoking cessation behaviour. We will discuss the
methodological considerations required when
testing the outcome of nursing interventions,
including;

• Sample size calculations for RCTs. The rationale
for and process of power analysis will be discussed
and its impact on Type 1 and Type 2 errors explicated.
• Measuring outcomes. The relative usefulness of
primary and secondary outcomes within this
study will be discussed, demonstrating how
subjective measures can be quantified and
used to influence nursing knowledge.
• Longitudinal considerations. The duration of
recruitment and data collection can lead to
difficulties, the researcher will give a personal
account of how she overcame attrition and
threats to internal validity that occurred during
the 12 month RCT.

The design and implementation of an RCT is
professionally and clinically important and
should be encouraged as a suitable method for
nursing research. Through discussion of
methodological difficulties that were negotiated
during this study, researchers will exorcise some
of the problems that have plagued RCTs within
nursing.
Original languageEnglish
Pages108-108
Publication statusPublished - 2003
EventRoyal College of Nursing Annual International Nursing Research Conference - UMIST, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Apr 200312 Apr 2003

Conference

ConferenceRoyal College of Nursing Annual International Nursing Research Conference
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityManchester
Period10/04/200312/04/2003

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