Research critique

This paper is a research critique about an article titled Ward staff experiences of patient death in acute medical setting authored by Wilson J (2014) and published in the Nursing Standard had an objective of exploring how healthcare professionals including nurses and support workers experience death in acute care setting. In this study, thirteen (13) staff were selected from two acute care wards. The staff were then interviewed on their experiences on patient death. Collection and analysis o data for this study was done through the Heidegerian phenomenological approach. From the results, it can be seen that the professionals usually expressed grief after experiencing the death of a patient. However, the feelings and expressions of the professionals were not taken into consideration by hospital managers. The article provides important information about healthcare professionals and how they experience deaths in acute care settings. The findings of this study could be used by nursing managers in providing support for nurses and could influence policies on end of life care in hospitals and other care settings. The research critique will use a quantitative framework for criticism (Caldwell, Henshaw & Taylor, 2011).

Research critique

To begin with, the title of the article is very satisfactory as it provides the readers with a preview of what to expect in the article. The article by Wilson is written in a simple language that is easy to understand and comprehend. The author did not use any jargon in this article. However, the author provided key words used in the article but did not provide meaning of the key words. The meaning of this is that some readers may not clearly understand the terms and concepts that the author used in this research. The article is well organised making it easy to attract the attention of the audience. The article has the names and place of work of the author. The article does not outline the exact qualifications of the author. This makes it very difficult to determine the exact depth of knowledge of the author in the subject matter (Coughlan, Cronin & Ryan, 2007). However, this article will be evaluated on its merits and not on the qualifications of the author. The title of the article is long enough in a way that it helps the reader to clearly identify the purpose of the study. The abstract of the article is very succinct in providing an overview of the research. For this article, the abstract contains important information including aim, method, findings and conclusion. The number of words within the abstract (146) is within the 200 words range required for an article to be published (Coughlan, Cronin & Ryan, 2007). The abstract is easily identifiable and the main contents within the abstract are in bold. However, from the abstract, it is not very easy for the reader to identify the research question and hypothesis for this study. The author does not provide the justification for his study. However, after conducting the study and providing his findings, the readers are able to note that the research is credible because the results of the study will play a big role in shaping future policies on nurse management in acute care settings (Wilson, 2014).

The literature review used by the researcher helped in easy identification of the data collection method. However, the literature review did not easily identify gaps in literature concerning the topic in question and how these gaps can be filled (Coughlan, Cronin & Ryan, 2007). For example, the literature review did not identify the gap of information on the relative distress that nurses and other healthcare professionals experience while handling patients. Despite this, the study quoted from different sources that were published in different journals in different years. Some of the sources quoted are not recent sources when considering the year of publication of the article as 2011 as there are sources from as late as 1960 (Wilson, 2014).

When considering the participants and sample size used for the study, the sample was not an adequate representation of the entire population. Only thirteen ward staff were used for this study that was conducted in only two acute care settings across the country. There are many acute care settings and there are many ward staff who met the selection criteria for participation in the study. The researcher needed to have included more participants so that the findings of the study could be spread broadly. However, it is important to note that the participants for the study were selected through a scientific approach. There were minimum conditions that the participants needed to met before they could participate in the study. The implication of this is that the results could be relied upon to form basis for policies and future actions (Wilson, 2014).

The study fulfilled ethical requirements because it was approved by the NHC ethics committee. However, the researcher did not disclose the happenings or incidences that led to the approval by the NHC ethic committee. The interaction with staff was done through managers whose consent was sought before the staff were enlisted for the study. The participants were given full information about the study and all the consent forms were signed before the study commenced. This means that the four ethical principles of autonomy, non-malfeasance, beneficence and justice were adhered to (Coughlan, Cronin & Ryan, 2007). First, through the consent forms, the participants were given the free will to decide whether to participate in the study or not. Non-malfeasance applies in the sense that the participants were informed of the objectives of the study. This information helped in preventing psychological injury to the participants. Beneficence applies in the sense that the findings of the research will be of immense benefits to the participants and the general society. This is because the study will form guidelines for future policies on how to manage nursing practice in the acute care environment. Justice was applied to all participants because they were treated equally (Beauchamp & Childress, 2001). This is because each participant was allocated between 30 to 60 minutes for interview.

In the methodology, the researcher used the Heideggarian phenomenology (Wojnar & Swanson, 2007). Phenomenology is very important in interpretation. The researcher does well to provide a brief background of this method and provides examples of some authors who have used the same method in their articles. In addition, the author provides a valid reason justifying the use of this method. This makes it easy for the readers to understand this method and why it was used in this study. The researcher used individual interviews to collect data. The interviews began with question requiring participants to describe their experiences about a patient’s death.

These questions were open ended as the participants were at liberty to describe particular incidences or the general incidences and occurrences when a patient dies (Wilson, 2014). This was a good way of obtaining information from the participants. However, the disadvantage of this is that there is a chance of exaggeration of some situations as some participants would want to take such an opportunity to show their prowess (Bowling, 2009). The researcher was not known to the participants. The only thing that the participants knew was that the researcher had a nursing background. This information helped the participants in opening up more on their personal experiences and how they have responded to patient’s death. In addition, having learnt that the researcher was a nurse, the participants felt free to use abbreviations and language that was related to nursing. However, the researcher needed to disclose more personal information about her so that the participants would understand him better. This would enable the participants to be more objective in their responses. The researcher also needed to set standards of responses so that she would have a better understanding with the participants. This is because there are instances when the participants might have used abbreviations or words that may have a different meaning from that thought by the researcher (Moule & Goodman, 2009).

To ensure that the participants were free in their responses, the names and other parameters which would easily identify the participants were removed. This helped in preserving the confidentiality of the participants. However, to make it easy, the researcher needed to look for an independent organisation that would help her with collection of data. Through this, she would then focus more of her energy on designing the research and identifying any gaps that exist in the study.

Data analysis was done by the researcher who analysed the transcripts obtained from the interviews. The researcher looked for common phrases in the transcripts so that she would identify the theme of the participants. It is important to note that there are very few computer programs that can analyse such data. However, the researcher needed to look for one custom made software that could have been used for analysis. This would have helped in analysis of huge volumes of data and generation of complex reports. If this study was to be scaled and more participants included, then such analysis of data would lead to massive wastage of time and very hectic for the researchers. Just as collection of data, the researcher needed to look for an independent organization to help her with analysis of data. This would have been done in a more professional way that would have resulted in better results in form of graphs and charts.

To ensure reliability and validity of the study, a pilot study involving three participants was initially conducted. The objective of this was to test the methodology of the study. From the pilot study, the researcher concluded that the objectives of the study could be met using the methodology. Samples used in the pilot study were not used in the main study. The research methodology was valid because it measured what it was supposed to measure. The methodology was not entirely reliable because there is no guarantee that it can consistently and accurately measure the objectives and concepts under the study (Lee, 2006).

There is a logical flow of the discussion based on the findings of the study. The discussion is related to the literature review thereby placing the study in context (Russell, 2005). The researcher highlights different concepts and the implication of the concepts for future nursing practice. The significance of the findings of this study have been correctly stated as through the findings, new ways of thinking and coping strategies for nurses can be developed for nurses working in acute care settings. The author has also highlighted the importance of transferring the findings to other settings. However, care must be taken to consider the issue of participants and sample selection while transferring the findings to other care settings (Ingham-Broomfield, 2008).

The conclusion of the article is logical and begins by restating the research topic though using different words. After this, the author talks about the findings from this article and how the findings can be used to improve policy. There is a recommendation at the end of the article. However, the conclusion is short because it does not cover all the important aspects that are highlighted in the article. For example, the researcher does not talk about the participant selection, data collection and data analysis method in the conclusion. At the end, the author provides a list of journal articles, books and other sources that were used in writing the article.


In conclusion, the research article titled Ward staff experiences of patient death in acute medical setting authored by Wilson J (2014) and published in the Nursing Standard had an objective of exploring how healthcare professionals including nurses and support workers experience death in acute care setting. This article is well written in a language that is easy to understand and comprehend. The author has not used jargon while writing the article. However, one of the weaknesses of the article is that the technical words and concepts have not been defined by the author. This makes it difficult for some of the readers to understand these technical words and concepts. The findings of the article have a great potential of influencing practice because through the findings, policymakers can determine how to handle physical and psychological distress among nurses working in acute care settings.


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