Working With Secondary Information in Research

Table of Contents


It is important to note that any form of research requires some form of utilization of outside sources. These can be categorized as primary and secondary, where the former is superior to the latter due to more specificity and lack of predisposed interpretation. Acquiring essential data in primary research demands extensive work, which is manifested in the methodological aspect of deriving the answers. However, the secondary sources are more focused on analyzing the raw data and impose their interpretation and assessment.

Main body

Therefore, there a number of differences between the two categories, where primary ones are more reliable, which means they are better to be used as evidence to justify the statements. For instance, a systematic review study analyzing nursing care omission and staff relationship concludes that low staffing leads to higher occurrences of missed care (Griffiths et al., 2018). In addition, it states that support workers do not improve the situation (Griffiths et al., 2018). Such a review is an example of a reliable secondary source, which selects the most relevant researches from a large pool of data.

In total, it based its findings and conclusions in eighteen articles, and thus, it is important to demonstrate the overall difference between primary and secondary sources using the provided information. For instance, one a study states that the main reasons for missed care are an unexpected increase in patient volume, low staff number, and high level of admission (Palese et al., 2015). Another primary source utilized in the systematic review states that care omission resulted due to the practice environment, nurse’s roles, patient mix, and time of shift (Ball et al., 2016). In addition, it suggests that an occurrence rate of missed care reduces by 50% if there are six or fewer patients allocated for each nurse (Ball et al., 2016). An article claims that a high number of patients substantially hinder the safety and quality of care (Cho et al., 2016). The last study indicates that registered nurse skill mix and total nursing staff hours of care per patient-day directly affected the rate at which care was missed or delayed (Dabney & Kalisch, 2015). It is evident that primary sources provide much more intricate details regarding the issue compared to a secondary one.

Although the review summarizes and derives valuable conclusions from the researches, it still dismisses the fact that such factors as time of shift, level of admission, patient mix, and skill mix, also affect the care omission. Therefore, one should adhere to using primary sources as evidence rather than secondary ones, because the former provides more specificity and reliability. The disadvantages of using secondary data include low availability because the problem one deals with may be unique and require the collection of primary data. Secondary data may be presented in such units of measurement that the researcher cannot work with, or the information may not be entirely accurate. There may be an insufficient amount of data, and, as a result, not all questions can be answered, which forces researchers to turn to the collection and analysis of primary data.


In addition, evident disadvantages of working with secondary information are the frequent inconsistency of secondary data with the objectives of the research, due to the general nature of the latter. The data can often be outdated, and the methodology and tools used to collect the information may not be consistent with the objectives of a particular study. In this regard, such research is often complemented by the parallel conduct of several expert interviews to increase the validity of the data.


Ball, J. E., Griffiths, P., Rafferty, A. M., Lindqvist, R., Murrells, T., & Tishelman, C. (2016). A cross-sectional study of “care left undone” on nursing shifts in hospitals. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72(9), 2086-2097. Web.

Cho, E., Lee, N. J., Kim, E. Y., Kim, S., Lee, K., Park, K. O., & Sung, Y. H. (2016). Nurse staffing level and overtime associated with patient safety, quality of care, and care left undone in hospitals: A cross-sectional study. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 60, 263-271. Web.

Dabney, B. W., & Kalisch, B. J. (2015). Nurse staffing levels and patient-reported missed nursing care. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 30(4), 306-312. Web.

Griffiths, P., Recio-Saucedo, A., Dall’Ora, C., Briggs, J., Maruotti, A., Meredith, P., Smith, G. B., & Ball, J. (2018). The association between nurse staffing and omissions in nursing care: A systematic review. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 74(7), 1474-1487. Web.

Palese, A., Ambrosi, E., Prosperi, L., Guarnier, A., Barelli, P., Zambiasi, P., Allegrini, E., Bazoli, L., Casson, P., Marin, M., Padovan, M., Picogna, M., Taddia, P., Salmaso, D., Chiari, P., Marognolli, O., Canzan, F., Gonella, S., & Saiani, L. (2015). Missed nursing care and predicting factors in the Italian medical care setting. Internal and Emergency Medicine, 10(6), 693-702. Web.

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