Planning strategies for the avoidance of pitfalls in intervention research


Rosanne Pruitt, Clemson University School of Nursing, 528 Edwards Hall, Clemson, SC 29634-0743, USA. E-mail:


Planning strategies for the avoidance of pitfalls in intervention research

Background. With the exception of large clinical trials, few studies in nursing and other social sciences test interventions. The discipline of nursing needs to maintain a full range of research designs for continued knowledge development. Intervention research presents unique opportunities and challenges for the novice as well as the seasoned researcher. Some of these methodological challenges include the complex nature of human subjects and interventions, including many factors that interfere with the study variables. Preliminary studies often reveal challenges that may not always be predicted or reflected in research texts. These challenges may be as important as the study results for success in future research efforts.

Purpose. Difficulties encountered in intervention research and suggested strategies for maintaining the integrity of the study are addressed. These challenges include maintaining an adequate sample size, intervention demands, measuring variables, timing issues, and experiencing unexpected events.

Findings and conclusions. Strategies presented include the importance of extensive planning, minimizing subject expectations and rewarding efforts, attention to control group members, incorporating retention strategies, expanding knowledge of variables and the study population, preliminary studies as well as anticipating unexpected events. The need for enhanced communication among nurse researchers, educators and clinicians is addressed. In the current health care arena, nurse researchers must understand organizational dynamics and marketing strategies. Collaborative research efforts can increase the visibility of nursing research as well as funding opportunities.