Research Techniques for Clinicians
45 Hours of CE Credit / Course Fee $550
Instructor Richard A. Sherman, PhD
Course Concept and Description: Students learn by watching audiovisual lectures provided on CDs, reading assignments both from materials provided on the CD and a text, and interacting with their instructor via e-mail. They answer short essay questions after each lecture rather than taking exams. Previous students have found that this course takes between 45 and 95 hours of work to perform.
Learning objectives: Welcome to research techniques for clinicians. This course is intended to acquaint you with the basic elements of how read the scientific literature intelligently and how a clinical research project is conducted from initiating the idea through presenting the results. The scientific method and its application to psychophysiological research and practice is emphasized.
Required Text: Sherman, R. Clinical Research. The book is on your CD.
Optional Statistical Software: If you want to practice the statistical techniques you will learn during this course, you will need to have access to any modern, PC based biostatistics program such as SPSS. Student versions of various appropriate software packages are under several hundred dollars. If you don't have access to a program, I strongly recommend SPSSPC. One of our graduate students just looked into the purchase and found the following: "You can purchase the software at journeyed.com. The cost of the graduate pack is usually $199.99. You can get the student version for $85.00, but it expires in one year. The grad pack expires in 4 years and has unlimited variable capacity."¯
To get CE credit for this course: You will complete five written assignments corresponding to each of the sections of the book. Each assignment should be done shortly after you finish the lectures associated with the corresponding section of the book. Note that there are no single word answers in any of the assignments. Each assignment will take you between two and five single spaced pages to answer adequately. Do not answer questions from the book.
You can expect to write two versions of each assignment as I will return assignments with any problems for correction. When you e-mail me a revision of a draft I critiqued, enter your revised answers on the file I sent you containing my critique so I can look at my comments and your response simultaneously.
1. Rationale - the crucial need to understand and use clinical research
2. The scientific method
Section A. The need to know what you are doing
- The basic steps and time-line of a project
- Defensive reading of clinical literature - does the hypothesis make sense?
- Protocol development - formulating and maturing a question
- Background and literature searches
- Determining feasibility
- Research ethics
- The research protocol approval process
- Pitfalls in the first steps
Section B. Basic study structures for the office and clinic environment
- The logic and progression of designs
- Exploratory single subject and single group designs
- Observational studies - longitudinal & cross-sectional designs
- Prospective experimental study designs
- Outcome and quality of life studies
- The protocol's research plan and design
- Defensive reading of clinical literature - does the design fit the needs?
- Pitfalls in study design
Section C. Establishing the credibility of data and clinical publications
- Subject selection techniques - sampling, inclusion - exclusion
- Hardening subjective data
- Validity and reliability - defensive data entry
- Survey, test, and questionnaire design
- Defensive reading of clinical literature - can you trust the subjects and data?
- Pitfalls in data gathering methodology
Section D. Statistics for evaluating literature & interpreting clinical data
- Concepts of clinical data analysis
- Descriptive statistics for evaluating clinical data
- Probability and significance testing
- Decision / Risk analysis
- Power analysis - determining the optimal number of subjects
- Evaluation of overlap between groups through inferential statistics
- Evaluation of relationships between changing variables
- Dichotomous and proportional data
- Outliers - data points that don't meet expectations
- Pattern analysis
- Survival / life table analysis
- Defensive reading of clinical literature: Handling the data
- Pitfalls in study analysis
Section E. Administrative aspects of research (permission to do studies, presentations, etc.)
- Getting permission to perform the study
- The protocol - incorporating statistics
- The grant - extramural funding process
- Writing and presenting the study
- The publication submission and review process
- Changing clinical practice based on what you did and read
- Defensive reading of clinical literature - does the conclusion match the raw data, the data analysis, the hypothesis, and the background?
- Pitfalls in the overall research process
Faculty: Dr. Richard Sherman's areas of interest spanning over thirty-five years of teaching, research, and clinical work in psychophysiology (Ph.D. from New York University) include elucidating mechanisms and treatments for phantom limb pain, determining the effectiveness of pulsed electromagnetic fields for treatment of migraine headaches, and describing temporal relationships between changes in muscle tension and pain. He has been president of the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Dr. Sherman is currently director of the Behavioral Medicine Research and Training Foundation and Dean of the Clinical Psychophysiology Doctoral Program at the University of Natural Medicine. He has written over 130 articles and books related to pain and behavioral medicine.
End of course description
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