Justification of a Research Design

You are a new battalion chief of a medium-sized city fire department. There are 118 sworn members of the organization assigned to the suppression division. All of the sworn members below the battalion chief belong to the International Association of Fire Fighters local union. Many of your colleagues are noticeably overweight, and the city’s insurance premiums have been on the rise for many years. The fire chief has asked you to oversee a new health and wellness initiative that will ultimately collect and analyze information on the suppression personnel related to tobacco use, alcohol consumption, and biometric information (blood pressures, cholesterol, baseline EKG, etc.). The fire chief explains that her goal is to use this information to establish new requirements for fitness for duty to ensure that “the firefighters who show up for work in the morning are not at risk of dying on duty.” She further relates that depending on what the data collected reveals, she might consider purchasing some exercise equipment for the firefighters to use. 

As a battalion chief, you have learned the art of delegation, so you task one of your captains to assist with this project. The captain recently obtained his degree in Fire Science so you have asked the captain to create a research design to gather data that will ultimately help with making an informed decision and recommendation to the fire chief.

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The captain returns after a few shifts and provides you with the following information:

Title of the Project: Why are our firefighters fat?

Questions to Answer: (a) Why are our firefighters so out of shape? (b) Are our firefighters smoking on duty? (c) Do our firefighters eat unhealthily on shift? (d) What type of exercise equipment do our firefighters want?

Hypothesis: Our firefighters are overweight because our training program is not mandatory.

Null Hypothesis: Our firefighters are overweight because our training program is not mandatory.

Research Design: I think we should meet with and talk to all of the firefighters to see how they feel about having a health and wellness program. I do not think that they will want to do this because we are so used to our daily routine now that it would be hard to fit anything in. When we meet with the firefighters, we can ask them what their normal blood pressure is and whether or not they smoke or chew tobacco. We can also ask them what kind of food they cook at night for their meal and how much alcohol they drink off duty.

The captain delivers his information to you and says, “Here Chief, I have that document that you needed.” You review the information, say “thank you,” and start to write your own memo to the fire chief. Under your breath, you question what the captain actually learned about conducting research in his degree program, because what he provided to you does not seem very scholarly!

In this assignment, you will justify a research design to the fire chief. Using the information the captain has provided you, create a research plan that you can present to the fire chief. You may use some, all, or none of the information that has been provided in the scenario as you draft your plan.

Your memo to the fire chief should include, at minimum:

  • Title of the project
  • Central question (if needed)
    • Subquestions (if needed)
  • Hypotheses (if needed)
  • Preliminary research design (as appropriate)
    • Quantitative
    • Qualitative
    • Mixed methods
    • Steps to gathering information
    • Ethical concerns
  • Justification of why this approach is appropriate to address what the fire chief needs
  • Potential financial impact to the department, if any
  • Conclusion

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