Brown et al sought to determine the effect of disseminating information about evidence-based interventions that promote physical activity. The target audience for the dissemination consisted of staff members of various state and local health departments. The study was quasi-scientific in nature; it relied less on rigid statistical analyses and rigorous mathematics than it did on simply attempting to get information to those who could benefit from it and to determine if the dissemination of this information was helpful.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of the research methodology presented in Brownson et al. (2007)?
The study’s approach has strengths and weaknesses, based largely on one’s perspective. If one has as a goal the acquisition of hard statistical information, this approach would likely not be helpful. Quasi-experimental design works well in certain situations, such as in some social sciences, where proper randomization can be difficult to achieve. In the case of this study, the main purpose was to see if there was a general net effect; detailed statistical breakdowns were less important than simply seeing if the disseminated information provided any sort of benefit.
- What value did using a quasi-experimental design add to the research study?
In terms of understanding how the information in the study can be used in practical, real-world terms, there is certainly something to be said for the quasi-scientific approach. It bypasses many of the often-impractical strictures of rigorous scientific analyses in favor of focusing more on what works in the real world.
- How does this impact the validity of the research project?
In terms of the study’s validity, it can again be seen from more than one perspective. With the goal in mind of seeing how this information fares in the field, it seems clear that the dissemination of the information had a net positive effect. Questions of “validity” are, to a degree, rhetorical; it is not necessarily “scientifically” valid, but the results of the study did provide a practical, useful set of results.
- What do you believe is the best strategy for disseminating research results? Support your position
If the question at hand is the dissemination of this study’s results to those who participated in the study (and who demonstrated an overall improvement in the resulting evaluations), that dissemination could easily be done through the already-extant channels established for the dissemination of the initial evidence-based intervention materials.
If the question is how best to disseminate the information to the public at large, or at least to people who are in a position to utilize this information, the answer is a bit more difficult to determine. The results of such a study would be inappropriate for peer-reviewed scientific journals, though that does not mean there are no outlets for the study results (Pascale, 2005). There are still innumerable trade journals, popular magazines, informational websites, and various other forms of media through which the information could be disseminated, provide that the information came with a caveat explaining the quasi-scientific nature of the study.
Brownson, Ross C. et al. The Effect of Disseminating Evidence-Based Interventions That Promote Physical Activity to Health Departments. Am J Public Health. 2007 October; 97(10): 1900–1907.
Lehoux, Pascale J et al. Dissemination of Health Technology Assessments: Identifying the Visions Guiding an Evolving Policy Innovation in Canada. Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Vol. 30, No. 4, August 2005.