“Patient Understanding of Emergency Department Discharge Instructions” by Engel et al.’s Critique

Is the research problem area clear?

The research problem area is not clear. There is no clear statement of objectives to help the researchers to develop effective research. They do not have manageable objectives to help them keep their research project focused and relevant to their research topic. These researchers have also not identified the environmental variables to help them know whether the findings will produce enough relevant information to be worth the cost. They have also not explored the nature of the problem and hence cannot be able to develop the most relevant solution to the problem. They have also not anticipated and communicated the possible outcomes of the courses of action. All these make the research problem unclear.

Is there a succinct problem statement, purpose statement, or research question?

There is no succinct problem statement, purpose statement nor research question. As for the problem statement, the authors have not stated clearly why the study is being conducted. The problem statement should be included to act as the guideline of their study. They have also not included the overarching purpose of their study, considering that there is no succinct problem statement. They have not provided a single succinct sentence that captures the essence of this study. The authors have also not included research questions in their study, which should come after an introductory discussion context. Their introductory context instead summarizes the whole study and hence makes the reader not to be attracted to what is discussed in the rest of the article.

Are the study variables and the population included?

The researchers have included study variables and populations in their study. The researchers conducted the study at a Chicago-based academic urban teaching hospital. The hospital served over 80,000 patients each year. The research aimed at recruiting about one hundred and seventy patients (Engel et al., 2012). The variables are seen where the authors mention, “Patients discharged from the ED in the 1-year period beginning April 2010 with one of five common diagnoses were eligible for enrollment: ankle sprain, back pain (muscle strain), head injury, kidney stone, or laceration” (Engel et al., 2012, p. 1037).

Can a determination be made as to whether the study was a quantitative or qualitative study?

A determination can be made as to whether the study was quantitative or qualitative. This is a quantitative research because it involves phone interviews, quantifying of data and generalizing results from a sample to the interested populations, and the statistical data are in the form of tabulations.

Can a decision be made that empirical data were gathered on the topic of interest?

In the research, a decision can be made that empirical data were gathered on the topic of interest. This is because the collected data was double entered with Microsoft Excel and the inconsistent data was identified and reconciled (Engel et al., 2012). Post hoc analysis has been used by the researchers. This was particularly in getting to know whether patient understanding could be related to comprehension of the directives given when they were cleared.

Does it appear that the study was ethical?

This study was ethical as researchers sought approval from the relevant authorities before the study was implemented. The participants were not forced; they verbally consented to the enrollment of the study (Engel et al., 2012). The quantitative research method also ensured that patients’ information was not disclosed. Since the information was tabulated, it was not easy to tell which patient gave the information or which interviewer asked the questions. All these show that the practice was ethical.

Is the feasibility of the study evident?

The feasibility of the study is evident because it involved practical actions such as interviewing, asking questions and tabulating information gathered from the research.

Is the significance of the study to nursing apparent?

The study is very important to nursing. Through it, the nurses will get to know and understand the risks or complications associated with discharging patients from the emergency department without providing them with relevant information, to manage their own care for safely while away from hospitals.


Engel, K. G., Buckley, B. A., Forth, V. E., McCarthy, D. M., Ellison, E. P., Schmidt, M. J., & Adams, J. G. (2012). Patient understanding of emergency department discharge instructions: where are knowledge deficits greatest? Academic Emergency Medicine, 19(9), E1035-E1044.

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