Research Methods in Optometry

research methods - CPD

  Key facts:

  • 20 masters level credits
  • Distance learning
  • Standalone module
  • Module code: OP4RM1

This course is for you if you are a clinician in the field of optometry and are looking to develop your knowledge in conducting practice-based clinical research. You will explore topics such as evidence-based optometry, normal distribution, central tendency and dispersion.

  • Credit value: 20 masters level credits 
  • Mode of delivery: Distance Learning
  • Course type: Standalone Module
  • Module code: OP4RM1
  • Start date: March
  • Number of places available: Up to 30
  • Duration: 16 weeks 
  • Time commitment: Although this will depend upon the individual, a typical student can expect to spend up to 200 hours of study in total
  • Entry requirement: You must be a clinician in the field of optometry.

How to apply
  • Applications for this course are currently open. Closing date: 31 January.
Apply now cpd
For 2018 entry: £1100

This course will provide you with the basic knowledge needed to conduct practice-based clinical research. Topics covered in this module include:

  • An introduction to evidence-based optometry

  • Research design and the investigation of cause and effect

  • Normal distribution, central tendency and dispersion

  • Assessment of risk in epidemiological studies and evaluation of diagnostic techniques

  • Hypothesis testing I: Testing normality and comparing the means of two groups

  • Hypothesis testing II: Comparing the means of more than two groups (Analysis of variance)

  • Hypothesis testing III: Correlation

  • Hypothesis testing IV: Linear regression

  • Hypothesis testing V: Analysis of frequencies

  • Clinical research ethics.

This module introduces evidence-based optometry which involves learning how to ask answerable research questions, conduct literature searches on electronic databases and critically evaluate scientific publications. Epidemiology is defined followed by an explanation of how to decide upon which study design is most likely to answer the research question. The advantages and disadvantages of cross-sectional studies, case-control studies, cohort studies and randomized-controlled clinical trials are discussed in terms of their susceptibility to bias and other forms of data distortion. 

Qualitative research, questionnaire studies, meta-analysis and decision analysis are introduced. Differences between discrete and continuous data are explained in the context of deciding whether to use parametric or non-parametric statistical tests to analyse results. This involves learning about the normal distribution and how to select the correct measures of central tendency (mean, mode and median) and dispersion (standard deviation, coefficient of variation, and standard error of the mean, confidence limits, range and interquartile range). The calculation of relative risks and odds ratios, together with their respective confidence limits, as a means of assessing disease risk in epidemiological studies is also explained. Evaluation of diagnostic tests is covered in terms of assessing discriminative ability (sensitivity, specificity, predictive values and likelihood ratios, ROC curves), validity and repeatability (Bland-Altman plots, coefficient of variation, kappa).  

Five lectures are devoted to hypothesis testing and cover testing normality (Kolmogorov-Smirnov one-sample test), the comparison of two (t-tests, Mann-Whitney U test, Wilcoxon signed-rank test) or more (analysis of variance, Kruskal-Wallis test, Freidman test) groups, correlation (Pearson, Spearman and Kendall correlation coefficients), linear regression (slope, intercept, coefficient of determination) and analysis of frequencies (Chi-square goodness of fit and contingency tests, Yates’ correction, Fisher’s exact test, phi coefficient). Descriptions are provided for performing these epidemiological and statistical calculations using SPSS and Microsoft Excel. 

Finally, clinical research ethics covers landmark documents, key ethical theories, laws protecting research participants, NHS ethics, University ethics and preparation of a research protocol and consent form for ethical approval.

This course is delivered via distance learning. You will access learning materials for general study, revision and assessment via our virtual learning environment, Blackboard. This platform allows you to access a comprehensive range of study materials, scientific journals, e-journals, databases and much more.

Assessment is by coursework submitted throughout the course. Coursework will take the form of formative assessments (MCQs) and individual assignment. 

Our courses offer you the opportunity to enhance your knowledge and skills in order to develop your career. In addition, our ethos is to equip you to make a real difference in your field.

The Optometry CPD courses allow you to develop specialist knowledge in advanced optometric topics. Clinical application and content may allow eye care professionals to widen and specialise their mode of practice.

Our courses are written and delivered by staff at the forefront of Life and Health Sciences teaching and research. Many members of staff practise / have practised professionally. In the recent Teaching Excellence Framework assessment, Aston University was awarded Gold, the highest award possible. In addition, our courses are regularly reviewed by relevant professional experts.

Course lead: Dr Mark Dunne 

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