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TRIP Research Design Options

Parkerton PH, Mittman BS, Takahashi NY, Pearson ML. TRIP Research Design Options. Paper presented at: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Translating Research Into Practice and Policy Annual Meeting; 2004 Jul 12; Washington, DC.


ackground: Randomized controlled trials offer internal validity, but not necessarily external validity, and may be infeasible for some research. To maximize insights into implementation processes, TRIP researchers should make wider use of other research designs--particularly in exploratory research phases.Objectives: 1) Identify research designs suitable for TRIP implementation and process assessment and present them in an organized schema. 2) Identify design strengths and weaknesses for different contexts.Research Design Typology, Issues, and Considerations: A typology of research designs has been developed that classifies options into four hierarchical categories defined in terms of the presence or absence of a managed intervention, an equivalent control group, and randomization. These experimental, quasi-experimental, pre-experimental, and descriptive designs are arrayed from many disciplines, described, implementation project examples provided, and strengths and weaknesses expressed. The preference of design should be assessed dependent on the research stage from exploratory to efficacy testing. In articulating alternatives, researchers should broadly consider research framework, data sources, intervention structure, site characteristics, and subject impact. Implications of Design Selection:To assure that the design of a research study maximizes discovery requires alternatives that enable learning despite constraints. Particularly during exploratory research, qualitative data collection and analysis may be more appropriate than quantitative and should be embraced because well-designed exploratory and pilot studies enhance outcomes. Researchers should be able to consider the full range of available and appropriate designs and articulate them to team members and oversight groups. If we are to increase the cost effectiveness and speed of translation research, we need to encourage sensible consideration of alternative research designs and improved communication with our audiences.

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