Qualitative research is research which gathers information about people’s perceptions and experiences. Often this information is collected by recording interviews or group discussions around the research question. The information is then analysed by collating different people’s ideas and looking for themes or relationships that best describe their experience. Therefore the results from this research are written up as a word-based answer to the question – rather than a number summary.
Quantitative research gathers information that is able to be summarised using numbers. This may be in the form of a questionnaire or survey which scores peoples responses. Alternatively the researcher may ask the participant to complete a test – and the ‘scores’ from that test are then summarised. These tests could include a score that a therapist uses to assess your physical capabilities (e.g., a walking assessment or a neuropsychological test) or a medical test that measures some aspect of your body functions (e.g., breathing function tests , blood tests or scan results). You may also be asked to score your feelings in a scored format. For instance, you may be asked to fill out a questionnaire in which you rate how much pain you have on a scale of 0-10, or you may be asked to rate questions about your quality of life. The results of quantitative research are presented as statistical/maths summaries of the number information.
A clinical trial is any research study that randomly puts people into different groups before the different treatments are started, and before the study information is gathered. The difference(s) in the health outcomes of these groups are then compared to evaluate the effects of the different treatments. Often clinical trials are used to compare the treatment effects of different medications, or treatment practices (e.g., whether surgically fixing a spinal fracture leads to better outcomes than not to surgically fix it). At BAIL the ‘SCIPA Full-on’ trial has been part of a multi-national study comparing the outcomes of treadmill training, trunk training and FES cycling compared to a standard gym programme.
A human participant is a person who is receiving some intervention or interaction that would not be occurring except for the research study they are part of. ‘Subjects’ and ‘study volunteers’ are terms sometimes used for research participants.