NURS 8310 WEEK 4 Discussion 2 Epidemiologic Designs

NURS 8310 WEEK 4  Discussion 2

As introduced in the first few weeks of this course, investigators use various epidemiological study designs to study health problems and the effects of health interventions. You have examined several study designs, including descriptive designs (in Week 2) and analytic study designs that are observational (in Week 3) or experimental (this week). As a DNP student, you should be able to determine which study design would be most suitable for addressing a health problem of interest to you, as this is a foundation for evidence-based practice.

For this Discussion, you will consider which epidemiologic study design (i.e., descriptive, ecologic, cross-sectional, case-control, cohort, or experimental) is most appropriate for investigating the population health problem you selected for Assignment 1. In addition, you will consider which epidemiologic data sources you would use to examine your health problem.

To prepare:

  • Reflect on the population health problem you identified in Assignment 1, which you will use for Major Assessment 7, and your early review of the literature.
  • Identify a question for your study; this will help you select an appropriate design.
  • Consider which epidemiologic study design (i.e., descriptive, ecologic, cross-sectional, case-control, cohort, or experimental) is most appropriate for addressing your selected health problem based upon the assumptions and basic tenets of each design.
  • Determine which epidemiological design(s) would not be appropriate for your study and why.
  • Also, explore the various health data resources that were presented in Chapter 5 of the course text, Epidemiology for Public Health Practice. Consider which data resources you could use for your study, assessing the strengths and limitations of those resources.

By Day 5

Post a cohesive scholarly response that addresses the following:

  • Briefly summarize the population health problem you selected for Major Assessment 7, and state the study question you want to answer.
  • Explain which epidemiologic study design is most appropriate for your study, as well as the assumptions and tenets that support its application.
  • Analyze the strengths and limitations of the potential data sources you might use for your study.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ responses.

By Day 7

Respond to at least two of your colleagues providing feedback on the appropriateness of the study question for the health problem, the selected epidemiologic study design, and whether another design might also fit the population and population health problem. In addition, provide any further insights on the strengths and limitations of the selected data sources, and suggestions of other data sources that might be appropriate.

Note: For this Discussion, you are required to complete your initial post before you will be able to view and respond to your colleagues’ postings. Begin by clicking on the “Post to Discussion Question” link and then select “Create Thread” to complete your initial post. Remember, once you click on Submit, you cannot delete or edit your own posts, and you cannot post anonymously. Please check your post carefully before clicking on Submit!

Week 4: Analytic Epidemiology Designs: Experimental

In the fall of 2011, the FDA announced a shortage of important chemotherapy drugs; this shortage, in turn, disrupted clinical trials and led to potential challenges in assessing data from those studies. Experimental research, which includes clinical trials, plays a pivotal role in the advancement of disease prevention and treatment. Once a risk factor has been established, the next step is testing an intervention through experimental research methods. Does this drug actually prevent or ameliorate symptoms?

In Week 3, you examined observational study designs, an important form of analytic epidemiology. This week, the focus turns to experimental studies. As you explore this topic, think about why experimental research is considered the “gold standard” of epidemiology. You will also begin developing Assignment 2 (Sections 1 and 2 of Major Assessment 7) and consider which research design will best address your selected population’s health problem.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Analyze a randomized controlled trial research study
  • Analyze ethical issues with a randomized control trial study
  • Evaluate epidemiologic study designs to answer a population health study question
  • Evaluate the strengths and limitations of health data sources to answer a population health study question
  • Determine primary data collection methods for a specific population health problem

Learning Resources

Required Readings

  • Friis, R. H., & Sellers, T. A. (2021). Epidemiology for public health practice (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett.
  • Chapter 8, “Experimental Study Designs”
  • This chapter examines experimental and quasi-experimental study designs.
  • Milligan, K., Niccols, A., Sword, W., Thabane, L., Henderson, J., Smith, A., & Liu, J. (2010). Maternal substance use and integrated treatment programs for women with substance abuse issues and their children: A meta-analysis. Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention & Policy, 5, 21–34.
  • This article examines programs that integrate substance abuse treatment and pregnancy, parenting, or child services. The authors conclude that there is a need for funding of high-quality randomized control trial and improved reporting practices. This article also demonstrates the application of analytic research designs to explore a population health problem.
  • Stead, L. F., Koilpillai, P., Fanshawe, T. R., & Lancaster, T. (2016). Combined pharmacotherapy and behavioral interventions for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (3). doi:10.1002/14651858.CD008286.pub3
  • The authors examine how both behavioral support and pharmacotherapies can be effective in helping people to stop smoking. By adopting a randomized or quasi-randomized controlled trial, the authors are able to evaluate whether such combinations of pharmacotherapy and behavioral support compared to receiving usual care or brief advice assists individuals in smoking cessation.
  • Physicians’ Health Study (2010). Retrieved from
  • This large-scale, randomized clinical trial that began in 1982 was designed to test the effectiveness of aspirin and beta carotene in preventing heart attacks (myocardial infarctions, or MIs) in male physicians aged 40–84. The first phase of the trial, which included more than 22,000 study subjects, demonstrated that low-dose aspirin does, in fact, reduce the risk of a first MI by 44%. This article provides a good example of the types of large-scale studies conducted using epidemiologic principles that lead to improved population health.
  • Wang, Z., Lapinski, M., Quilliam, E., Jaykus, L. A., & Fraser, A. (2017). The effect of hand-hygiene interventions on infectious disease-associated absenteeism in elementary schools: A systematic literature review. American Journal of Infection Control, 45(6), 682-689.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012). Epidemiology and population health: Experimental studies [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 5 minutes.

In this program, the presenters discuss experimental studies, including the effect of randomization and blinding on study results.

Accessible player

Optional Resources

  • Groopman, J. (2006, December 18) Medical dispatch—The right to a trial: Should dying patients have access to experimental drugs? New Yorker, 82(42), 40–47.
  • Dorak, M. T. (2006). Epidemiologic study designs [PowerPoint presentation]. Retrieved from
  • Alexander, L., Lopes, B., Ricchetti-Masterson, K., & Yeatts, K. B. (2018). Randomized controlled trials. ERIC Notebook Periodical Second Edition No. 10. Retrieved from