Thursday, May 13, 2010

Introduction to Health Research

Health research unfortunately often occupies a back seat especially in local medical schools. There are students and even teachers alike who frown upon research.

The next series of blogs will talk about health research as the author's humble contribution to help cultivate research culture in medical schools and schools of allied health sciences.

Health research has an important role in our battle against diseases and maintaining health. Its importance include:

  1. Generating knowledge which hopefully could lead to action in the aspects for example of diagnosis, prevention and control of diseases.
  2. Guiding policy and health program development.
  3. Develop new technology which could improve the delivery of health services and the practice of medicine.
In doing research, students have a choice as to what type of health research to carry out. There are 3 types of health research:
  1. Basic or biomedical which deal on the study of the nature normal events in the human body and covers areas like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, parasitology, biochemistry, etc.They are oftten done in the laboratory setting.
  2. Epidemiological which deals more on the public health side which is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease frequency in human populations. The aim of these studies are to identify risk factors of diseases or evaluate programs or interventions.
  3. Clinical research which understands the disease process including identification of determinants of illness outcomes (often done by residents). Participants in these studies are patients.
Below are the steps in conducting research:
  1. Identification of research problem
  2. Planning the research and development of research proposal
  3. Implementing the study through data collection. data processing and analysis, results interpretation and final report writing.
  4. Dissemination of results which often is forgotten. What is the use of a research if the results are made known via scientific publications, presentations, seminars, conferences. As many would say, "publish or perish".

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