NURS 8310 Week 3 Discussion Observational Study Designs

By Day 3
Post a cohesive response that addresses the following:

Identify the association between the risk factor and health outcome you selected, and suggest which observational study design you feel is most appropriate for examining that association.
Support your selection of the observational design, noting its strengths and limitations for addressing the health problem.
What might you be able to learn by using your selected study design that might lead to improvements in population health? Support your response with evidence from the literature.

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Observational Study Designs

Observational studies are designs used to examine the causation between the exposure and outcome relationships. The data obtained from observational studies inform preventive methods implemented in healthcare (Barría, 2018). An example of a risk factor and health outcome that is selected in this discussion is obesity and lack of physical activity and unhealthy diets among the school-going children in the community. It is postulated that the lack of engagement in adequate physical activity and intake of unhealthy diets has been contributing to a rise in the rate of obesity among school going children in the community. The existence of causation between the factors and its effect on the outcome can be examined using an observational study.

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The most appropriate observational study that can be adopted for the above investigation is cross-sectional study design. Cross-sectional studies measure the prevalence of a health problem in a population. They also provide insight into the cause-effect relationship between the exposure and outcomes in an investigation. The study entails assessing the population of interest (sample) at a specific point of time(Rosenbaum, 2017). The selection of samples, in this case school-going children, is done based on their level of exposure and not outcome status. The outcomes of the study are acquired after the implementation of an intervention. Strategies such as random selection of the subjects are utilized to eliminate the risk of bias in the investigation. At the end of the study, researchers examine the outcomes and exposure at the same time to determine the cause-effect relationship of the variables (Rosenbaum, 2020). Therefore, the determination of the outcomes and effect of the exposures will be undertaken at the end of the project in cross-sectional study design.

The relevance of cross-sectional study design to the above investigation is attributable to a number of strengths. First, cross-sectional studies enable the acquisition of data from the subjects at one point. The implication is that highly accurate data is obtained to provide true insights into the effect of the adopted interventions as exposures (Rezigalla, 2020). The other strength is the fact that it will enable the investigation of multiple exposures and outcomes related to obesity among school-going children and their relevant variables. The obtained information can also be used in developing hypotheses to inform future investigations in the topic. The other strength with the design is its ability to facilitate in-depth investigations (Rezigalla, 2020). Accordingly, the results obtained from cross-sectionals studies can guide in-depth investigations into the issue of obesity among school-going children.

Despite the relevance to the issue of obesity among school-going children, cross-sectional studies have their limitations. One of them is the fact that they do not measure the incidence of obesity in the school-going children. Instead, it measures prevalence, which might not provide a true picture of historical data related to obesity among school-going children (Barría, 2018). The other limitation is that it does not provide information for use in making inference. Inference on the cause-effect relationship between the exposure and outcomes cannot be determined. It may also be difficult to interpret the associations between the exposure and outcomes in the research (Barría, 2018). It also does not provide information about the temporal relationship between the risk factors for obesity and its outcomes. I will learn about the prevalence of obesity among school-going children by using cross-sectional study design. I will also learn about the relationship between exposure to interventions such as physical activity and dietary modification and prevalence of obesity rates among school-going children (Barría, 2018). Therefore, it will inform my understanding of the problem.


Barría, R. M. (2018). Cohort Studies in Health Sciences.BoD – Books on Demand.

Rezigalla, A. A. (2020). Observational Study Designs: Synopsis for Selecting an Appropriate Study Design. Cureus, 12(1), e6692.

Rosenbaum, P. R. (2020). Design of Observational Studies. Springer Nature.

Rosenbaum, P. R. (2017). Observation and Experiment: An Introduction to Causal Inference. Harvard University Press.