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Qualitative Review


Manthorpe, Goodman, Harari, Swift, and Iliffe’s article Smarter Working in Social and Health Care: Professional Perspectives on a New Technology for Risk Appraisal with Older People focuses on a report by Smarter Working in Social care and Health (SWISH). The report was a feedback on how an information technology system for assessment of old people in the society can be improved. The report suggested that it would be more appropriate to use feedback information obtained from the old people themselves to develop health and social programs for them. The research involved two qualitative studies done in different regions within London that aimed at developing a method that would enable assessment of the information regarding old people to determine those who were at risk. Additionally, the study intended to investigate the applicability of such a method in enriching public sector information and empower the local communities report cases of old people at risk. This paper is a qualitative analysis of Smarter Working in Social and Health Care: Professional Perspectives on a New Technology for Risk Appraisal with Older People. The paper will critically discuss how the research was undertaken (methodology) and what the research found out (findings). Additionally, the paper will include a critical review or appraisal that will systematically and logically give a balanced assessment on strengths, weaknesses, and limitations and give an informed opinion on the methods and findings.

The study involved several approaches and entailed obtaining data from focus groups as well as interview in which old people and professional dealing with the old people were interviewed. Manthorpe, Goodman, Harari, Swift, and Illife (2009) found out that the existing health risk assessments are comprehensive particularly in identifying the risks facing the old but burdensome. However, they found out that social workers as well as the managers are unaware of how they can make use of data on the local population to meet the information needs of the old people. The study also aimed at exploring practicality of HRAO technology in determining the needs of the old people and informing social care and health commissioners of such need for effective planning. This would ensure the needs are addressed. The study was credible because it has been peer reviewed which validates the truthfulness of the data presented. Additionally, the study was based on a report prepared by Smarter Working in Social and Health Care.

The article met the conditions of a good research article sine it had an abstract or summary of the methods and findings, background to the study in terms of aims/objectives and justification or rationale for the study. Additionally, he article included a literature review stating what is already known about the topic and gaps in knowledge. Another aspect that distinguished the study as dependable was the explanation on how the research was undertaken in the methodology section. The findings of the study were explained in the findings or results. A section on discussion of the findings that also linked them to existing literature was available. The article made the conclusion and at the same time highlighted the limitations and recommendations of the study together with a way forward for future research. Finally, the authors acknowledged the works of other researchers used in the article, which was done using a reference list.

The abstract gave an overview of the paper. It summarized the method used in the study, the study results, and the findings. This provided an insight on the significance of the study. The literature review was evident throughout the paper. The article kept referring to previous studies done on perspectives regarding use of technology in risk appraisal with older people. The methods used enhanced coverage of different perspectives. The study findings were consistent and addressed the research question. Another aspect that made the study credible was its objectivity. The analysis was done qualitatively and the study involved a large number of participants. Additionally, the research questions enhanced objectivity. The participants volunteered to participate and answered the question they wanted to without being forced.

The study was significant since it addressed an issue that has been under discussion for quite some time. In England, there has been ongoing discussion on how the health and social well-being of the old can be improved. Organizations such as National service Framework for Older People have been searching for a policy that would enhance social care for the old. This study was thus crucial in that it provided some foundation on how a platform that addresses the needs of the old people can be initiated. Additionally, the issue on how independent living amongst the old can be enhanced has been seriously debated in UK (Law et al., 1998).

The study, recommended use of Health Risk Appraisal for Older people (HRAO), which makes use of questionnaires as the tools to assess the health need of the old people. The study was extensive and different research methodologies were used. The participants included focus, groups, individual interviews that were conducted on old people as well as professions (Hannes, 2011). Qualitative analysis was the most applicable since it enable wide coverage. By collecting data extensively, the precision of the study was increased. The extensive nature of data could not have allowed quantitative analysis. Additionally, it enabled assessment of aspects such as the history of the use of information technology amongst the old (Mitchell et al., 2012). Qualitative analysis enabled subjectivity since it reflected the views of the majority. The issues of factors affecting the health of the old people in the society is quite complex. Use of qualitative analysis was appropriate since it enabled interpretation of the data using different (Sharland, 2006).

The study was conducted at two local authorities, which were NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs), and Smarter Working in Social and Health Care 1833. It entailed use of technology development approach to establish the modifications that required to be done on the existing programs. The sampling was done in a way that ensured that the participatory group was representative of the old people. This is because it involved use of purposive approach where 52, older person selected from the two areas under study were selected. Additionally, 78 professional dealing with the older people were interviewed. This was insightful since it ensured that the study provided informed findings since professional would understand the health and social well-being of the old. Using the local authorities, NHS, and focus groups to aid in identifying the older people in the society made the study findings more effective (Rabinowitz, 2012).

Several reasons made the research methodology effective. One such reason was that the participants were allowed to choose whether to use face-to-face interview, over the phone, or through their focus groups. This ensured that they gave the information freely and voluntarily since they were not forced. The individual interviews were organized beforehand and the research questions were clear and addressed the research question. Additionally, the interviewees were allowed to pursue topics that were not directly related to the study. Use of group interviews in addition to the individual ones was advantageous since it enabled the participants to stimulate each other’s thinking (Rabinowitz, 2012; Shaw & Gould, 2002).

To conduct the study, permission was obtained from the local authorities. This ensured that the research was ethical since it was in line with the requirements of the authorities. For participating employees, the heads of the organizations were involved in the study. The study question was on the views of the participants on the value, usability, and appropriateness of HRAO in assessing the need of the older. The participants were requires to rate the benefit of such data and how the local authorities applied such information in planning the interventions (Illife et al., 2000).

The data was analyzed qualitatively to enable consideration of multiple perspectives from the different unrelated groups of participants. This enabled the researchers to analyze view as well as experiences from varying groups and individuals. The analysis was descriptive and three members of the research team were involved in the analysis of the data. Use of discussion amongst the analyzers ensured that different perspectives were included. The study ensured that the data was correct by further analysis of the results by the other members of the research team (Manthorpe et al., 2009). The analysis was extensive since the researchers aimed at reaching a point of saturation whereby, they would have analyzed all the data and further analysis produced no new results (Manthorpe et al., 2009). The findings were presented appropriately and in a manner that could be easily understood (McLaughlin, 2012). The researchers found out that technologies such as HRAO enabled the older people to participate in the society welfare since they could access information. Additionally, HRAO enabled reporting of social factors determining health of the older persons. Some of the factors mentioned were bereavement, retirement, injuries, accidents, and divorce.

The article had some limitations. One of the limitations is its failure to address the shortcomings of the existing programs. Though it mentioned that the existing programs do not state how leaders in the society should deal with reported information on the problems face by the old at risk, it failed to provide evidence on this. Additionally, the methods used in conducting the study have not been clearly explained. Another limitation of the study is on the analysis (Becker et al., 2012). Though a brief description on how the data was analyzed has been given, the analysis is not properly presented.


Manthorpe, Goodman, Harari, Swift, and Iliffe article was extensive and addressed the objectives of the study. The data reflected the situation for the target population since it entailed interviewing individual as well as groups. The sample was large and thus meaningful inferences on the target population were obtained. The article was organized and easy to understand. It covered all the features of a research article.

The article was present in a clear and interesting way. The objective and the findings were clearly explained. However, the research methodologies as well as the data analysis sections were not very clear. The study was consistent and addressed the research question. The findings were useful to social workers since they addressed the issue of health and social factors affecting the old, a subject that has been debated in the field of social studies. The information flowed appositely and was continuous. The article was timely since it came at a time when the government of the UK was seeking for a way to address the health and social matters affecting the older people. His also makes the article worthwhile since it will enable the social workers address the issues affecting the old effectively. There are no serious omissions and the research question was addressed appropriately. It provided new insight on issues affecting the older people. It contributed to the existing knowledge by pointing out at the issues that needed to be addressed to make HRAO more incorporative. The study contributed to existing knowledge by providing measures that can be taken to refine HRAO method and improve access of information and services by the old people. Additionally, it provided ways of identifying older people at risk, and examined the potential of HRAO in enriching public sector.


Works Cited

Becker , S., Bryman Alan & Ferguson , H., 2012. Understanding research for social policy and social work. New York: The Policy Press.

Hannes K. Chapter 4: Critical appraisal of qualitative research. In: Noyes J, Booth A, Hannes K, Harden a, Harris J, Lewin S, Lockwood C (editors), Supplementary Guidance for Inclusion of Qualitative Research in Cochrane Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Version 1 (updated August 2011). Cochrane Collaboration Qualitative Methods Group, 2011. Available from URL http://cqrmg.cochrane.org/supplemental-handbook-guidance

Illife, S. et al., 2000. Smarter Working in Social and Health care (SWISH). Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, 6(4), pp. 4-11.

Law, M. et al., 1998. Guidelines for Critical Review of Qualitative Studies. Qualitative Studies, pp. 357-362.

Manthorpe, J. et al., 2009. Smarter Working in Social and Health Care: Professional Perspectives on a New Technology for Risk Appraisal with Older People. Oxford Journals, Vol 40(Issue 6), pp. 1829-1846.

McLaughlin, H., 2012. Understanding Social Work Research. 2nd Edition ed. New York: SAGE Publications Ltd .

Mitchell, W., Baxter, K. & Glendinning, C., 2012. UPDATED REVIEW OF RESEARCH on the Risk and Adult Social Care in England. JRF Programme Paper, pp. 1-45.

Rabinowitz, P., 2012. Qualitative Methods to Assess Community Issues. The Community Tool Box, p. http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1050.aspx.

Sharland, E., 2006. Young People, Risk Taking and Risk Making: Some Thoughts for Social Work. Open Journal Systems, Vol 7(No 1), pp. Art. 23, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0601230..

Shaw, I. & Gould, N., 2002. Qualitative Research in Social Work. New York: SAGE.


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