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The Impact of an Impaired Physician, Research Proposal Example

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Research Proposal

Determining the Impact of an Impaired Physician Upon Immediate Family Members

Study Description

In preparing to develop an effective research study, it is necessary to consider the challenges, roles and responsibilities that will encourage growth and opportunity in regards to the designated subject area. In different areas of medical and psychological research, there are essential elements that must be explored that challenge researchers in identifying key areas of research study development. For example, determining whether or not a study should be qualitative or quantitative is a critical factor, in addition to other key elements, such as sample and participant recruitment, as well as data collection and analysis. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a research study that examines a thorough and comprehensive research question in order to determine its possible outcomes. The following discussion will address a potential research study regarding the impact of impaired physicians and their role in influencing immediate family members of patients that they have treated. This is a relevant research question because it addresses the manner in which impaired physicians practice medicine, and how this might impact immediate family members in a negative fashion, because they believe that the physician negatively influences patient care and treatment.

Study Approach – Focus Group/ Qualitative or Quantitative

The most efficient approach to consider for the proposed research study is the focus group, which is defined in the following manner: “Unlike traditional quantitative research, focus groups are centrally concerned with understanding attitudes rather than measuring them. In an academic sense, the goal of a focus group is to gain access to private, non-communicable, unconscious feelings and emotions. In a real sense, focus group research is a direct, sensitive, and interactive method of assessing public opinion, accomplishing what telephone studies cannot” (Luntz 2010). In this context, there are important factors to consider that demonstrate the value of focus group studies, because under the specific circumstances, it is important to determine how immediate family members might feel regarding a physician that is unfit to practice medicine, yet has treated their immediate family member for a given condition. This is a difficult concept to accept, and leaves many families frustrated and confused by what has taken place, and raises questions regarding why the physician continues to practice medicine when he or she is unfit to do so. A qualitative study utilizing a focus group method is ideal for this research question because it is sometimes just as important to obtain feedback regarding a given situation, without requiring the time that is necessary to measure it. Furthermore, there are important concepts that establish the reasons why or why not a situation is deemed positive or negative, depending upon focus group feedback.

Study Planning and Research

The proposed study requires a planning phase that will examine a number of critical areas of the subject matter, and how patients are negatively influenced by impaired physicians when they are not removed from their positions and continue to practice medicine. Research will examine statistics regarding this argument and will consider how many physicians continue to work with impaired judgment, and how they place patients at risk.

Factors for Sample and Participant Recruitment

In order to establish a successful focus group strategy and implementation plan, it is necessary to consider the underlying factors that may be useful in selecting a focus group sample, and how to recruit participants for this group that will be valuable. In essence, participation should be based upon a careful selection of individuals from a pool, considering diversity as a primary method of selecting participants (Arcury and Quandt, 1999). One key factor to recognize is that there should not be any degree of bias in selecting study participants, as this may negatively impact the study and its objectives (Arcury and Quandt, 1999). For the purposes of this research study, the most feasible approach to identifying a research sample is through purposive sampling, which “Groups participants according to preselected criteria relevant to a particular research question… Sample sizes, which may or may not be fixed prior to data collection, depend on the resources and time available, as well as the study’s objectives” (Family Health International, p. 5). In this context, the proposed research study serves as an opportunity to explore impaired physicians from the perspective of different immediate family members, using participants from different cultures in order to obtain a variety of opinions regarding this research question.

Types of Participants

For the proposed study, a sample will be derived from a general practice population, whereby patients are being treated for a variety of conditions. These participants will be family members of different patients, selected randomly from a population of 100-200 patients.

Level of Group Structure

The groups to be structured will consist of immediate family members of patients, along with research coordinators and moderators that will record the responses of study group participants for further evaluation at a later date.

Group Size

Each of the groups in question will be comprised of approximately 10-15 participants.

Number of Groups

To compare responses within the focus group setting, three separate groups will be established to conduct this study.

Data Collection and Data Analysis Procedures

In order to effectively collect the data that is required to address the problem of impaired physicians, there must be a strategic approach in place that is based upon effective data collection procedures and outcomes. To be specific, the data collection strategy to be considered for this study must incorporate a series of important objectives and considerations that will include accuracy of data, as well as the level of detail that is desired (Quality America, 2008). In general, “Deciding what data to collect will depend on the phase of the project—the conceptual, design, production, or maintenance phase. In any case, data should include failures due to equipment failure and human error” (Quality America, 2008). Therefore, it is necessary to collect data through the focus group sessions by asking questions of each study participant that will obtain their true feelings and beliefs regarding the circumstances in which impaired physicians treat their immediate family members. The proposed focus groups will be conducted with approximately 5-10 participants, and three separate sessions will be conducted. Each participant will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire at the beginning of the session, and then an open discussion, led by a series of questions directed at each participant, will serve as the remainder of the data collection effort. It is evident that in order to approach these circumstances with an open mind, the proposed focus groups must emphasize the importance of their emotions and feelings regarding impaired physicians responsible for the care of their loved ones. This is a highly sensitive topic, and is very likely to introduce a series of difficult emotions and responses to the discussion group. These responses will be tabulated in order to develop a consensus regarding the topic in question and how to best manage situations involving impaired physicians and their ability to provide care and to continue practicing medicine under these conditions. The derivation of responses will lead to a collaborative effort to collect and then analyze the data under consideration, and this will also reflect a greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities involved in providing adequate support and guidance to immediate family members, as well as the consideration of different forms of disciplinary action to remove physicians from seeing and treating patients when they are impaired for any reason. Therefore, the focus group should serve a twofold purpose in order to determine the best possible approach to identifying participant responses, while also demonstrating the significance of removing physicians from duty and taking the appropriate disciplinary action against them. In general, ” All scientists make choices about which data are most relevant to their research and what to do with that data: how to turn a collection of measurements into a useful dataset through processing and analysis, and how to interpret those analyzed data in the context of what they already know. The thoughtful and systematic collection, analysis, and interpretation of data allow it to be developed into evidence that supports scientific ideas, arguments, and hypotheses” (Egger and Carpi, 2008). This is a key contributor to the success of the proposed research study, and it must be designed to influence outcomes associated with the development of outcomes that will be favorable for patients and their families.

Interview Content/Questions

The questions for the focus groups will be structured to obtain emotional and logical responses to the questions, which will gauge the level of emotion that each participant holds in regards to the subject matter.

Moderating Style

The groups will be moderated by one individual, along with two study coordinators to record the sessions and to take notes. The moderator will lead the sessions and ask all questions.

Site Selection/Data Collection

A single general practice office will be evaluated for this study, which is comprised of a patient population of over 500 patients. Data will be collected on the basis of this group and their ethnographic makeup and responses to all questions.

Analysis and Reporting

Data will be collected and then analyzed and discussed accordingly between the moderators and research coordinators. To reduce bias, different moderators will be used for each of the focus group sessions. In addition, reporting will be conducted after all data has been collected and analyzed in detail.

Summary

The proposed focus group method will enable the researchers to establish any connections to existing frameworks and surveys that address this research question. Individual focus group sessions will be kept confidential, but the results will be tabulated and submitted for publication, protecting the confidentiality of all participants. Finally, a discussion of how to proceed after the analysis has been conducted will also be considered.

Conclusion

Designing an effective research study requires a comprehensive research question, as well as a strategy to conduct the research study with a specific process in mind. The focus group plays a positive role in identifying cultural concepts and considerations, as well as emotional responses to different circumstances. In this specific case, removing the impaired physician from practice, in addition to interviewing immediate family members treated by these impaired physicians, will provide the data that is necessary to determine how to best approach these situations with the best interests of all involved parties in mind. Immediate family members are likely to possess strong reactions to these circumstances, and therefore, must be explored accordingly to justify the removal of physicians with obvious impairments. These efforts will be useful in determining how to move forward in taking action to protect patients and their families from unnecessary risks or harm at the expense of impaired physicians. The focus group is the appropriate forum to accomplish these objectives in a successful manner on a regular basis.

References

Arcury, T.A., and Quandt, S.A. (1999). Participant recruitment for qualitative research: a site-based approach to community research in complex societies. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3800/is_199907/ai_n8833427/

Egger, A.E.,and Carpi, A. (2008). Data: analysis and interpretation. Visionlearning, 1(1).

Family Health International. Module 1: qualitative research methods overview. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from http://www.fhi.org/nr/rdonlyres/etl7vogszehu5s4stpzb3tyqlpp7rojv4waq37elpbyei3tgmc4ty6dunbccfzxtaj2rvbaubzmz4f/overview1.pdf

McMillian, J. (2002). Data analysis and collection. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from http://staff.ed.uiuc.edu/jmmcmill/portal/datacollection.html

Luntz F.I. (2010). Focus group research in American politics. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from http://www.pollingreport.com/focus.htm

Quality America (2008). Data collection, analysis, and reporting. Retrieved October 23, 2010, from http://www.qualityamerica.com/knowledgecente/articles/CRE2_1.html

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