HLTH460–14S1 (C) and HLTH 462

Critical Appraisal in Health Research and Health Interventions Research Methods

0.2500 EFTS (HLTH 460) and 0.125 (HLTH 462): Common Syllabus
Date and Time: 6th March 2014, Thursday - 7th March 2014, Friday
At: Wheki 105, Wheki Building, College of Education, University of Canterbury
Lecturers and Course Coordinator:
Dr Arin Basu [AB] - course coordinator. For all course related queries, please contact
Arin Basu at any of the following ways:
Cell Phone: 022 629 0356
Desk phone: 03 345 8161 or in campus, extension 44161
Twitter direct message: arinbasu1
Email: arindam.basu@canterbury.ac.nz
Professor Philip Schluter [PS].
The goal of this course is to develop skills and knowledge of critical appraisal of health
research and research methods. In this course, you will learn how to interpret research
designs, make sense of health research data, reports, review literature, write grants and
research proposals.
Learning Outcomes
Following successful completion of this course, a student will be able to:
- Frame answerable research questions for specific health related research
- Identify an appropriate epidemiological study design for the research
- Describe and understand the differences between correlation and causation
- Develop a plan of data analysis
- Write a short research proposal
- Argue on the strength and weaknesses of different health related study designs

The course will be delivered in one block of two days on March 6th
(Thursday) and 7th (Friday), 2014
• The classes will be held in Wheki 105
• Attendance to all sessions is mandatory unless the student has made prior
arrangement with the course coordinator not to attend one or more sessions
• All lecture materials, notes, and audio/video materials and links will be made available
through Learn after the completion of the course
Day One: 6th March, 2014, Wheki 105, Thursday, 9 AM - 4 PM
Session One: Introduction to Research Design
09:00–09:30: [AB and PS] Introduction to the course, housekeeping, answering student
questions, demonstration of the “Learn” Site
09:30–09:45: Morning Tea
09:45–10:15: [AB] Overview and Introduction to Research Process in Health Care
(Allow 5 minutes to change to the next topic)
10:20–11:20: [AB] Types of Study Designs (Allow 5 minutes gap)
11:25–11:55: [AB] Measures of Association (Correlation, Odds Ratio, Relative Risk,
Coefficients,) (Allow 5 minutes gap)
12:00–12:30: [AB] Theories of Causation (“Correlation does not imply causation”,
Discussion of Hill’s Criteria, Discussion of Rothman’s Pie, Attributable risk)
12:30–13:15: Lunch Break
Session Two: Planning Your Own Research
13:15–13:45: [AB] How to Frame A Research Question (Research as Reflective Practice,
PICO framework (Population, Intervention/Exposure, Comparator, Outcomes),
(Allow 5 minutes gap)
13:50–14:20: [AB] Selecting a Method of Study (Primary versus Secondary Research,
Reanalysis of Existing Data versus Systematic Review and Meta Analysis,
Intervention studies versus observational epidemiological studies, Single case
study design versus epidemiological study design) (Allow 5 minutes gap)
14:25–15:00: [PS] Introduction to Hypothesis Testing (concepts of null and alternative
hypothesis, Type I and Type II errors, interpretation of p-values, confidence
intervals, statistical significance versus substantive significance)
15:00–15:15: Afternoon Tea
15:15-16:00: [PS] Class exercise:
During these discussions, structured abstracts of one or more research papers will
be distributed to the students who will be divided into groups and they will be
asked to review the papers among themselves for the first fifteen minutes based on
the structured abstracts. The instructors will then join the student groups in the
discussions, highlighting texts from the full texts to reinforce the points discussed
earlier in the day.
Day Two: 7th March, 2014, Friday, 9 AM – 4:30 PM, Wheki 105
Session Three: Prepare to Collect Data
09:00–09:30: [PS] Sample Size and Power. (Point to reinforce that power calculation
should not be post hoc)
Session Four: Data Analysis
09:30–10:15: [PS] Principles of Data Analysis (Data preprocessing, setting up
hypothesis, measurements and variables - nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio, single
variable descriptive stats what to report, bivariable and analyses of data, may also
include ideas about modelling, fitting data to models, and models to data
(discussion about data-model fitting)
10:15–10:30: Morning Tea
10:30–11:00: [PS] Class exercise
11:00–12:00: [PS] Principles of Data Analysis continued (confounding and bias,
interactions, multivariable models, validity and reliability of an instrument)
12:00–12:45: Lunch
12:45–14:30: [AB] Principles of Data Analyses for Secondary data for information
synthesis such as systematic reviews and meta analyses (steps of systematic
reviews, principles of literature search (actual literature search needs to be
demonstrated by librarians and students may be asked to book sessions with the
librarians, we can deal with the basic principles), critical appraisal of risk of bias,
quality appraisal of studies, and if possible and time permits, how to synthesise
information for meta analyses. Nothing hands on but demonstration)
14:30–14:45: Afternoon Tea
14:45–15:00: [AB] Discussion of the topics covered till this time
15:00–16:00: [AB] Writing and Preparing Research Proposals
15:00–15:30: Principles of Research Ethics and Filling in Ethics Form (5 minutes
15:35–16:05: Elements to be covered in writing a research proposal for Theses,
Dissertations, and Funding
Session Five: Conclusion
16:05–16:30: [AB and PS] Valedictory Session and filling in course surveys, student
questions and answers
HLTH 462 students will then need to work with the course coordinators and lecturers to
identify a topic for their research proposal. HLTH 460 students will in addition identify a
series of readings that they will complete with the course coordinators till end of
Semester One.
Two assessments are planned for this course. These are as follows:
Assessment One: A Mid-Term Open Book Examination To Test the Concepts Taught
This will be a 10 item, short answer type, open book test examination just before the mid
semester break, roughly one month after the block course completion. The test will be of
three hour duration, open book, and practice examination will be uploaded on Learn to
familiarise students with the examination type and format after completion of the block
course. The examination must be completed in “Learn” and online.
Assessment Two: Submission of a Research Proposal (60%)
This will be a 1500 word length research proposal in the prescribed format containing
only of the following sections (Introduction or Background, Research Questions,
Methodology, References). The word limit will exclude Tables and Figures (although
maximum of three Tables and Two Figures will be allowed). References will need to be
in APA 6th Edition style. The Research Proposal will be due on the last day of the class
for the first semester for HLTH 460 students, and last day of the class for the second
semester for HLTH 462 students.

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