Generating and Evaluating Public Health Evidence PUBH 521 Task 3 – End of Module Project (EMP)


Choose a public health research topic from the list given below. Think about how you could tackle the research question using, firstly, a quantitative research design and then secondly using a qualitative approach.

  • Increasing rates of cardiovascular disease
  • Mental health—self-harm
  • Increasing alcohol use
  • Sexual health
  • Road traffic accidents
  • Malaria

Write two separate research project outlines (one from a qualitative perspective and the other from a quantitative perspective). This should include:

Each outline should include:


  • A research question, a research aim and no more than two research objectives
  • The epistemological approach underlying the quantitative or qualitative perspective
  • Proposal of a research design to address the question. The setting, the identification of the study population and sampling strategy (with inclusion and exclusion criteria)
  • The ethical considerations associated with the research
  • A critical and comparative analysis of the two approaches and a reflection on the strengths and weaknesses of each approach

(Approximately 900 to 1000 words for each proposal and 500 to750 words for the comparative analysis, total 2,500 words +/- 10%)

End of Module Project: Increasing Alcohol Use


Research Question: What is the correlation between college student’s exposure to its environment and the rise in alcohol consumption among selected American college students in Seattle Washington?

Research Aim:

The aim of this study is to analyze the trend of alcohol consumption among the college students in a community health dimension. Through this, it will be possible to deduce on the extent in which the college-related environment influences the student’s alcohol drinking trends. To achieve this, this study focuses on specific variables such as the residential plans, social activities in the college and social-cultural norms in alcohol consumption patterns.

Research Objectives:

  1. To explore the different college-related environment practices and activities and establish the extent to which they influence alcohol use trend among students in Seattle Washington
  2. To determine the existing relationship between the social and normative factors and their contributions in influencing college students alcohol consumption in Seattle Washington

Epistemological Approach Underlying Quantitative Research

By trying to uncover and measure patterns of behavior in the college environment, and impact to alcohol consumption among students employing a direct observation or a scientific method I will be assuming a positivist position. In this practice, I will adhere to the perception that it is only the factual information sourced through the observations (use of senses), inclusive of different measurements is trustworthy. This is tandem with Muijs (2010) who cited that in positivism studies, the researcher’s role is merely oriented towards data collection and interpretation through adoption of an objective approach. Additionally, in positivism quantitative approach, the research findings are normally observable and quantifiable.

In this approach, I will be assuming the existence of quantifiable observations (college practices and behaviors and students alcohol consumption trends) that easily result into a statistical analysis. This will be influenced by the fact that positivism in tandem with the empiricism orientation that knowledge have is rooted in human experience (Yu, 2003). In this case, through conducting this research, I be assuming the existence of specific truth regarding the phenomena in question and that the truth is measurable by the observer. The rationale of this study is evidenced by its use in the past studies revolving this topic. In studies such as effects of alcoholism to high rates of failed marriages, the researcher assumes an independent point of view from the study with his interests not integrated to the outcomes of the study. This has however received criticisms from different researchers that if a researcher adopts a positivist approach in study, the research can be effectively objective.

Research Design

This study was carried out in Whitman College Washington located in a community of 20,000 inhabitants. A considerable number of this total population is composed of students living in the college hostels. To ensure the relativity of this study, it majorly focused on the student pursuing health sciences courses.

A web survey was developed in January 2017. An invitation, through e-mail was sent to the bachelor and master students registered in the college health science faculty (n=11,200). The inclusion criteria were being a member of the faculty of health sciences.  In this regard, a random sampling approach was adopted (Tansey, 2007). In particular this was a non-probability sampling approach. The invitation contained a link to the web-survey questionnaire. To ensure willingness of research participation is upheld, there were no financial or material incentives offered. There was an option provided for requesting a final report where 67% of the respondents requested.

The questionnaire form comprised of 30 questions mainly relating to the socio-demographics, their living arrangements, admission program, practice in students activities, alcohol consumption, norms prompting their behaviors and implications of alcohol consumption.

After a series of reminders to participate, approximately 5,679 students participated which is approximately 40% of the overall acceptable average web survey participation rates. As opposed to the face-to-face surveys, the number of participants may appear limited. However, for a web survey, this was a satisfactory result since it is in line with the median web-survey participation (Schreuder et al., 2001). Additionally, no evidence have been validated that low response rates have a potential of eliciting biased estimated in surveys.

To ensure there was no bias in this research, the sample distribution of our selected sample was compared to the health sciences faculty students’ distribution. Evaluating the non-participants, the probability of women participation was higher than that of men. However, the student’s age or year of study was a non-issue and did not affect the outcome of the research.

Research Ethics

In this study, the approval for ethical issues was sourced from the Social and Students Affairs review board of the university.

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