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A Research Critique of a Quantitative Study

Jenna Shields

A Paper
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
NU304 Evidence Based Practice
University of South Alabama
College of Nursing
Fall 2009

A Research Critique of a Quantitative Study

The title of the article is “Women’s Initial Experience of Abnormal Papanicolaou
Smear”, and it is written by Susan Mitchell and Vincent P. Hall. The title describes exactly the
phenomenon of interest in the article. The phenomenon of interest is clearly identified both in the
title and in the first sentence of the abstract. The researcher does not identify specifically why the
phenomenon requires a qualitative format, but he does so indirectly in the purpose section by
stating that the study was done to describe the initial subjective experience of getting news of an
abnormal Pap and to provide enough theory to guide development of effective follow-up
interventions (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The word that jumps out at me in this statement is
“subjective” because that means it can only come from a subject’s mouth, and the researchers
wanted to use this data to provide a theory to help develop good follow-up interventions. The
author describes the philosophic underpinnings of the research by describing the healing process
that women undertake when diagnosed with an abnormal Pap Smear as a labyrinth journey and
stating that women complete the tasks of evaluating peril, seeking refuge, obtaining information,
and reframing their self-image as a necessary part of this journey (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The
purpose of this assignment is to conduct a critique of a qualitative research study.
The literature review was well-written, easy to understand, and it was current and
comprehensive, including all components needed for a thorough qualitative review. It stated the
purpose of the review, which was to justify a need for research in the area. It described how it
was conducted, which was by searching four databases. It listed the criteria for articles chosen,
which were to have been published between 2000 and 2006 (although they also added one from
2008) and to describe the subjective experience of an abnormal Pap diagnosis (Mitchell, & Hall,
2009). The researcher grouped the articles into two categories based on research that was related.
These categories were subjective beliefs related to the causes and consequences of abnormal Pap
and clinical interventions designed to improve knowledge and follow up (Mitchell, & Hall,
2009). It also identified a gap in the knowledge, which was that no studies were identified that
only looked at non-heterosexual women or the beliefs of their partners (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009).
The purpose of this study was clearly identified; it was to describe the experience of getting news
of an abnormal Pap and to provide a theory to guide the development of follow-up interventions
that will work well (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The authors also describe the possible significance
to the work of nursing that this research will have.
The method used to collect data was compatible with the purpose of the research; it was
the best way to effectively gather the information that the researcher needed. The researcher used
three open-ended questions to collect data and avoided structured interview questions. This
allowed the women to give their own experience subjectively while the researcher maintained
neutrality (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The researcher did complete the research as described, and
he clearly describes the selection of study participants in the article. Purposive sampling was
used for the initial contact and the limitations of the sampling were that the women had to speak
English, aged 18 or older, and had to have been diagnosed with a first abnormal Pap smear
between 4-6 months before the interview (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The participants who were
chosen were therefore all well-chosen for the study. The sample size was small with only eight
participants, but the population had a good variety of education, background, relationship status,
and age, giving the study good credibility and providing an accurate sample of this population.
The method of data collection was well-focused on human experience. The researcher
clearly and explicitly describes the methods of data collection, and he clearly addresses the

protection of human participants by stating that substitute initials will be used whenever they are
quoted (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). The saturation of data was not clearly described in the article,
but the article did state that selective coding caused the sorting of saturated data into themes that
described the women’s healing process (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009).
Instrumentation and Data Analysis
The researcher described the strategies used to analyze the data as a systematic analysis,
which resulted in a theoretical process that stated that women are pushed into a psychological
process that is like entering a labyrinth when they are told that they have an abnormal Pap smear
(Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). These strategies are valid and compatible for the purpose of the study
because it is fitting to turn the analysis of a person’s feelings of a negative experience into a
metaphor that people can picture and understand. The researcher’s interpretation of the data is
clear and concise and definitely does not compromise its integrity in any way. It is a good
representation of what these women feel and a good interpretation of the processes that they
must go through in order to feel at peace with themselves again.
The reader clearly understands the procedures used by the researcher to analyze the data.
The researcher does not address the credibility, auditability, and fittingness of the data directly,
but he does state that the labyrinth metaphor became viewed by the participants as an accurate
symbol based on the subjects’ descriptions of their experiences, which included being put onto a
detour from their expected direction of life (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009). As for auditability, the
reader could follow the researcher’s thought process and the researcher did document the
research process. The findings of this study could be applicable outside of the study, and the
results are fitting and meaningful to others outside of the research.
The findings of the article clearly spell out what the women in this study were feeling and
the mental processes that they had to go through, and are still going through, to discover how to
accept their test results and have a positive attitude toward themselves. The researcher’s
thoughts and concepts directly reflect the data that the women provided, so much so that they
actually stated that they agreed with them. In the discussion section, the researcher compares the
report to what was known about the phenomenon by discussing the literature review findings
compared with his. The researcher discusses implications for practice in the article clearly and
concisely. He tells the correct way to promote a woman’s ability to get control of her health and
trust the medical professionals’ recommendations for treatment. As a result, the reader
understands the best way to use the findings in practice and what skills are required to correctly
assess a client’s needs. Recommendations for future research are also clearly stated at the end of
the article; he includes quantitative studies that could be used to test interventions to help women
in the different stages of the labyrinth study (Mitchell, & Hall, 2009).
This article was very well-written and well-organized. The reader could find all of the
components of the article easily without having to search through it. The researcher was very
clear with his information collection, data analyzing, and findings. He also made it clear who
would benefit the most from knowing this information, and he also made it clear the best way to
apply the information in clinical practice. The reader would definitely recommend this article to
a person looking for a clear, concise, and well-organized qualitative article.


Boswell, C., & Cannon, S. (2007). Introduction to nursing research: incorporating evidence-

based practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Mitchell, S., & Hall, V.P. (2009). Women's initial experience of abnormal papanicolaou smear.

Journal of Holistic Nursing, 27(2), doi: 10.1177/0898010108330806.