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Developing research questions

Based on the evidence base, the next step is then to define some specific research questions. Often research projects have a primary research question that will be the overarching focus of the study and guide its design, and also a set of secondary research questions that will be explored along the way. For example, a primary research question might be ‘Does group drumming reduce depression among people with mental health conditions?, and secondary research questions might include ‘Does drumming also improve social networks and reduce social isolation?, ‘What are the mechanisms by which drumming has these effects?, ‘Do

Table 10.2 The spectrum of options for developing research questions relating to health and wellbeing outcomes

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Depth/length

The study will examine health or wellbeing in a broad way looking for general rather than specific effects with no consideration for how long effects last beyond an intervention.

the study will look at health or wellbeing in more specific terms, perhaps through validated measures or a specific framework

the study will focus on a specific psychological, physiological, or behavioural factor of health and/ or wellbeing through multiple measures or approaches, and may consider how long effects last.

the study will look at multiple psychological and/or physiological and/or behavioural factors, or look in great detail at one aspect of health, and length of effect will be considered.

the study will look comprehensively at the health and wellbeing of participants, using a wide variety of methods. the study will also examine whether changes are long-lasting.

Breadth/reach

the study will focus exclusively on individuals involved in the intervention.

the study will focus on the core group of participants but will include some additional exploratory research around another group, such as healthcare professionals, relatives, or artists involved.

the study will look in detail at the core group of participants, their close healthcare professionals, and their close relatives/carers.

the study will look at effects on collective groups beyond the main target group such as the healthcare organization and the local community in addition to the target group.

the study will look at the impact of the project on wider communities such as the wider health system and cultural landscape.

these effects last beyond a 6-week project?’, ‘Is drumming cheaper and more cost- effective than cognitive behavioural therapy?’ ‘Does the engagement of the mental health patients in drumming also reduce stress among their family or main carers?’ or ‘Are the participants more skilled musically by the end of the proj ect?’.

Sometimes, depending on the type of research being undertaken, research questions are further shaped into hypotheses (predictions of outcomes), which propose more specifically what it is anticipated will be found. There are many domains across which research questions can sit. These can include health and wellbeing outcomes (Table 10.2), social outcomes (Table 10.3), financial outcomes (Table 10.4), and artistic outcomes (Table 10.5), in relation to the depth and length of impact and the breadth and reach of those affected. Each of these different domains has been set out below. Although not all of the domains may be of interest for a research project, an awareness of them is important, as there are likely to

Table 10.3 The spectrum of options for developing research questions relating to social outcomes

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Depth/length

The study will not look at social outcomes.

The study will examine social impacts in a broad way looking for general rather than specific trends with no consideration for how long effects last.

The study will examine one or more specific social factors and explore if effects extend beyond the end of the project.

the study will look at multiple social factors and ascertain for how long alteration could last.

the study will look comprehensively at social factors through a wide variety of methods and exploration of longitudinal impact.

Breadth/reach

The study will focus exclusively on individuals involved in the intervention.

the study will focus on the core group of participants but will include some additional exploratory research around another group, such as healthcare professionals, relatives, or artists involved.

the study will look in detail at the core group of participants, their close healthcare professionals, and their close relatives/carers.

the study will look at effects on collective groups beyond the main target group such as the health or social care organization and the local community in addition to the target group.

the study will look at the impact of the project on wider communities such as the wider health or social care system and cultural landscape.

Table 10.4 The spectrum of options for developing research questions relating to financial outcomes

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5

Depth/length

The study will not consider financial outcomes.

the study will catalogue the resources needed to run the intervention and outline the business model.

the study will compare the cost of the intervention to other interventions for the same target group.

the study will look at the financial impact of the project for the health service, focusing on immediate or short-term effects.

the study will look at the long-term financial impact of the project for the health service.

Breadth/reach

The study will focus exclusively on the costs directly associated with the target health condition

the study will focus on the wider health costs for that individual.

the study will look in detail at the main healthcare organization or system involved and explore implications for close healthcare professionals, carers, or relatives.

the study will additionally look at implications beyond health, such as implications for social care, employment, or housing.

the study will look at the wider implications for society as a whole.

be effects of varying sizes in each domain from an arts intervention, so it may be useful to incorporate ways of capturing these effects in the research design .

 
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