Case example for Descriptive Studies
Definition : A descriptive study is one in which information is collected without changing the environment (i.e., nothing is manipulated).
Here is an example of a descriptive study:
A researcher wants to know why individuals in Community A have a higher rate of a rare form of cancer when compared to those living in Community B. To find out the reasons for the differences in cancer rates in these two communities, the investigator surveyed residents about their lifestyle, noted the types of businesses that were present in the community and searched medical records. The researcher found that the headquarters for the Toxico Chemical Plant is located in Community A, there is a higher rate of cigarette smoking in this community and residents tended to delay or skip going to the doctor for an annual checkup. In Community B, the largest employer was a department store and on average, residents did not smoke as much as residents from Community A. However, like individuals from Community A, Community B residents tended to delay or skip their annual checkup with their doctor.
1. What makes this a descriptive study?
2. Why did the researcher collect information about the lifestyle of community residents? What about the type of businesses present in each community? Medical records?
3. Can the investigator establish that the chemical plant and cigarette smoking are the cause for the higher rate of cancer among those in Community A?
4. Can the investigator establish that lower smoking rates and the absence of a chemical factory explains the lower rate of cancer among those in Community B?