Qualitative Research Paper
Critically appraising evidence sources is a profound strategy for justifying their contribution to clinical decisions and practices. According to Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt (2019), an essential aspect of critical appraisal is assessing how well evidence sources answer foreground questions that form the basis of nursing research.
Qualitative evidence provides opportunities for researchers to answer clinical questions about human experience regarding the studied phenomena. In this sense, qualitative students provide reflective, anecdotal, and narrative information that requires judgment to interpret data.
Unlike quantitative research, qualitative evidence does not emphasize the statistical significance of variables, making it appropriate for theory development. This paper presents a critical analysis of a qualitative case study that provides insights into the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. This qualitative study is consistent with the PICO(T) question; in inpatient chronic schizophrenia patients (P), do social skills group training sessions (I), compared to standard care (C), increase conversational skills (O)?
A Critical Appraisal of a Qualitative Study
What type of qualitative design was utilized to conduct the study?
In an article, “Effectiveness of social skills training in persons with schizophrenia,” Sarkar et al. (2020) reviewed a case study of an adult man who roamed around the Diphu police station. He was referred to the LGB Regional Institute of Mental Health, Tezpur, upon a schizophrenia diagnosis. He participated in vocational and social skills training during his admission to the LGB mental health facility.
This case study formed the basis of this study. According to Rashid et al. (2019), a qualitative case study enables researchers to explore phenomena within a particular context through various data sources to reveal multiple facets of the studied phenomena. It is essential to note that qualitative case studies can influence the development of theories and conceptual frameworks regarding the topic of exploration.
Are the results valid/trustworthy and credible?
It is possible to evaluate the credibility and trustworthiness of the results by considering various aspects, including the documentation of researchers’ actions, appropriateness of data, methodical consistency with the research objective, and peer debriefing (Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt, 2019). Based on these considerations, the study’s findings are credible because the research is peer-reviewed and the researchers described their roles.
How were the participants chosen?
The researchers used a single-subject case study, meaning they involved one participant. This factor eliminated the need for comprehensive inclusion criteria. However, they considered the patient’s chief complaints, including a schizophrenia diagnosis, self-smiling, poor self-hygiene, and inappropriate behavior.
How were the accuracy and completeness of data assured?
Although the researchers described data collection and analysis methodologies, they did not develop a model of information from the subject to medical record to the clinical case study report. Therefore, they did not adequately assure data accuracy and completeness. However, they effectively used data from different evaluation scales to make an informed conclusion regarding the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia.
How plausible/believable are the results?
The study’s findings are plausible due to various considerations, including the methodical consistency with the study’s objectives, the ability to collect and analyze pre-and-post intervention scores, and the plausibility of using explicit information to develop a conclusion. Some of the psychiatric scales used in the research are Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE), the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), and Social Skills Checklist.
Are implications of the research stated?
Often, the research’s implications explain the major contributions of the study in the clinical practice and decisions. The authors did not state the research implications, meaning the readers should critically appraise the evidence source to establish its implications and contributions to clinical settings.
May new insights increase sensitivity to others’ needs?
Although the study exhibits some limitations, including small sample size, its findings are justifiable and credible based on reputable data collection and analysis methodologies. Healthcare professionals and researchers can contextualize findings from the study and gain awareness of approaches for improving symptoms of people with schizophrenia, including enhancing their social skills.
May understandings enhance situational competence.
The results from the study are dependable and transferable since the researchers used credible interventions and scales for assessing the severity of schizophrenia symptoms before and after the intervention. The conclusion of this study confirms the effectiveness of social skills training (SST) in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. As a result, the research can improve healthcare professionals’ situational competence by requiring them to transfer and contextualize these findings.
What is the effect on the reader?
The study’s communication mechanisms, interventions, and data collection and analysis methodologies improve the reader’s awareness of a successful single-subject qualitative case study. Finally, the study’s findings and conclusion validate the effectiveness of social skills training (SST) in improving different symptoms of schizophrenia. Therefore, it allows readers to familiarize themselves with potential non-pharmacologic interventions for improving the quality of life of people with schizophrenia.
Are the results plausible or believable?
The study’s findings are plausible because the data collection and analysis methodologies are consistent with the topic of exploration. According to Melnyk & Fineout-Overholt (2018), readers can assess the dependability of a research process by considering how the authors reached the conclusions and the consistency of findings across time. Based on these criteria, it is valid to argue that the results were plausible.
Is the reader imaginatively drawn to the experience?
Drawing the reader’s attention to the study is an essential aspect of the study’s dependability. In this sense, it anchors the effective communication of information and lessons. In the study, the authors described the client’s problems and diagnosis and effectively elaborated the components of the social skills training program, including rapport establishment, activity schedule, and behavioral techniques. These descriptions enable readers to imagine the experience and understand the intervention of concern.
What are the results of the study?
The study revealed significant changes in pre and post-scores of social skills and work functioning, as well as in other thematic items of the Social Adaptive Functioning (SAF), including social skills, social functioning, and positive and negative symptoms (Sarkar et al., 2020). In this sense, the study confirmed the effectiveness of social skills training in improving social skills, work functioning, and social skills.
Does the research approach fit the purpose of the study?
Undeniably, the research approach fit the purpose of the study because it enabled researchers to gain firsthand insights into the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. Rashid et al. (2019) contend that a qualitative case study helps explore a phenomenon within a specific context via various lenses to reveal multiple facets of the topic of exploration.
How does the researcher identify the study approach?
The researchers identified the research design and various pre-and-post intervention methodologies, including ICD-10 criteria, Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), Social Skills Checklist, and Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE). Comprehensive identification and description of the study approach enable the reader to assess how these methodologies align with the study’s objectives.
Are the data collection and analysis techniques appropriate?
The data collection and analysis techniques used in the study are appropriate since they are widely accepted approaches for assessing the level of impairment caused by different mental illnesses, including schizophrenia. The SAFE, PANSS, and Social Skills Checklist are evidence-based scales assessing the levels of impairment in psychiatry.
Is the significance/importance of the study explicit?
The study’s significance is explicit because the researchers used scientific and non-fictitious methods to collect and analyze data. In this sense, the reader can easily deduct the study’s contribution by reviewing the introduction, methodologies, data collection and analysis instruments, and conclusion.
Does the literature support a need for the study?
Undeniably, the study is consistent with the overarching need to conduct empirical research on therapeutic mechanisms for improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. By testing the effectiveness of social skills training in improving social skills among people with schizophrenia, the study contributes scientific insights into the topic, complementing other qualitative and quantitative research studies.
What is the study’s potential contribution?
The study contributes knowledge to the topic of exploration and validates the effectiveness of applying social skills training (SST) to improve the social skills of people with schizophrenia. It is vital to note that people with schizophrenia struggle with significant cognitive impairments that hamper their social interactions and overall quality of life. Therefore, justifying the applicability of SST in improving social skills can provide an ideal non-pharmacologic intervention for improving schizophrenia patients’ quality of life.
Is the sampling clear and guided by study needs?
The researchers used a single-subject case study design, meaning only one participant was a subject of the intervention. According to Sarkar et al. (2020), a single-subject case study enables researchers to evaluate treatments. Due to this research design, there was no need to apply any sampling approach. Also, the design allowed researchers to implement pre-and-post interventions effectively.
Does the researcher control selection of the sample?
The researchers did not control sample selection because they used a single-subject case study design. However, they considered the patient’s diagnosis and chief complaints, including self-smiling, poor self-hygiene, and inappropriate behavior with an unknown period of illness.
Do sample size and composition reflect the study needs?
Although the researchers effectively used a single-subject case study to develop a conclusion regarding the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia, the sample size may be too small to enhance the study’s dependability and the findings’ transferability.
According to Andrade (2020), a small sample has insufficient statistical power to answer the primary research question. Therefore, it could be essential to conduct further research with an acceptable sample size to justify the conclusion.
Is the phenomenon (human experience) identified?
Yes. The researchers described the participant’s experiences before and during the research. For instance, they comprehensively elaborated on the rapport establishment and therapeutic alliance processes, activity schedules, and the client’s involvement in group activities with other patients. These activities enabled the participant to communicate with others, familiarize himself with research activities, and respond to the intervention.
Are data collection procedures clear?
The data collection procedures for this study are clear and consistent with the study’s objective of exploring the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. For instance, the researchers used various psychiatry scales, including Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE), Work Behavior Inventory (WBI), and Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), to collect pre-and-post intervention data.
Are sources and means of verifying data explicit?
Yes. The researchers described means of verifying data, enabling the reader to ascertain the credibility and dependability of the conclusion. For example, they described the elements of Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE) and the purpose of the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS) in measuring the severity of schizophrenia symptoms.
Are the researcher’s roles and activities explained?
Yes. The researchers explained their roles and activities throughout the research’s timeline. According to Sarkar et al. (2020), researchers played a significant role in establishing rapport with the participant, developing a therapeutic alliance, scheduling activities, and teaching social skills through interaction, role play, providing feedback and suggestions, and assigning homework to the participant.
Are data analysis procedures described?
One aspect that renders this study dependable and credible is using reputable and easily understandable data analysis methods. For instance, the researchers tested the effectiveness of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia using various psychiatric scales, including Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE), pre and post-score of Work Behaviors Inventory, and Positive and Negative Symptoms.
Does analysis guide directions of sampling when it ends?
No. The research lacks a comprehensive sampling approach or a criterion for assigning groups to participants. The major reason the researchers did not conduct sampling is that the study was a single-subject case study that involved only one participant. Therefore, the researchers had a guarantee of 100% participant turnout.
Are data management processes described?
Research data management (RDM) is a profound aspect of a successful research project. According to Kanza & Knight (2022), research data management entails organizing, storing, sharing, and creating data management plans to ensure the research is ethical and reproducible. In the study, the researchers did not effectively describe data management processes.
What are the reported results (descriptive or interpretation)?
The reported results are descriptive and interpretation of the findings of pre-and-post intervention scales. In this sense, the researchers interpret the findings from various scales that tested the effectiveness of social skills training and described the overall impacts of social skills training (SST) in improving the participant’s social skills alongside other themes.
How are specific findings reported?
The researchers reported specific findings through a tabular representation of the 17 items of Social Adaptive Functioning based on pre-and-post-intervention data. The Social Adaptive Functioning contains items that assess the level of impairment using the 5-point scale (0=no impairment, 1=mild impairment, 2=moderate impairment, 3=severe impairment, and 4=extreme impairment).
Are the data meanings derived from data described in the context?
Yes. The researchers derived meanings from the contextual data. For instance, they used the Social Adaptive Functioning Evaluation (SAFE) to establish various data analysis themes, including bathing and grooming, clothing and dressing, money management, neatness and maintenance activities, and social engagement friendship. The researchers used these themes to test the effectiveness of social skills training in improving patients’ social skills and develop an informed conclusion.
Does the writing effectively promote understanding?
The researchers used simple language and writing mechanisms to describe findings and provide insights into the topic of exploration. They have effectively described the background, methodology, results, and conclusion. These approaches enable the reader to comprehend researchers’ intentions and understand all research concepts.
Will the results help me care for my patients?
Yes. The study has positive implications for clinical practice. For instance, the study reveals the importance of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. The findings are transferable based on data collection and analysis methodologies, meaning they can apply to schizophrenia patients in other settings.
Are the results relevant to persons in similar situations?
Absolutely. The study’s results justify the applicability of social skills training in improving the social skills of people with schizophrenia. In this sense, a person in a similar situation can benefit from social skills training to improve social skills, including conversational skills. Also, the results emanate from reliable diagnosis methodologies (ICD-10 criteria) and social skills checklist administered before and after the intervention.
Are the results relevant to patient values and circumstances?
The results reflect the patient’s values and circumstances by focusing on various symptoms of schizophrenia, including social skills, quality of work, cooperation, bathing and grooming, and social engagement. By focusing on these themes, the researchers justified the need to improve patients’ circumstances by implementing social skills training (SST) as a non-pharmacologic intervention.
How may the results be applied to clinical practice?
Healthcare professionals grapple with the challenge of implementing a scientifically justifiable non-pharmacologic intervention for improving schizophrenia symptoms. As a result, this study justifies the effectiveness of social skills training (SST) in improving social skills, cooperation, work habits, quality of life, and personal presentation among people with schizophrenia. Clinicians, especially psychiatrists, can use SST sessions as therapeutic approaches for improving the health and wellness of people with schizophrenia.
The selected qualitative study demonstrates various aspects that render it credible, including the methodical consistency with the study’s objectives, the utilization of reputable data collection and analysis psychiatric scales, communication patterns, and the researchers’ ability to use the information to develop an informed conclusion. Although the study has various limitations, including a small sample and a lack of a comprehensive data management plan, its findings are plausible, dependable, and transferable.
Andrade, C. (2020). Sample size and its importance in research. Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 42(1), 102–103. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijpsym.ijpsym_504_19
Kanza, S., & Knight, N. J. (2022). Behind every great research project is great data management. BMC Research Notes, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13104-022-05908-5
Melnyk, B. M., & Fineout-Overholt, E. (2019). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice (4th ed.). Wolters Kluwer Health.
Rashid, Y., Rashid, A., Warraich, M. A., Sabir, S. S., & Waseem, A. (2019). Case study method: A step-by-step guide for business researchers. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 18(18), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406919862424
Sarkar, N., Singh, A., & Ali, A. (2020). Effectiveness of social skills training in person with schizophrenia: A case study. National Journal of Professional Social Work, 21(1), 63. https://doi.org/10.51333/njpsw.2020.v21.i1.242