Research Methods for the Health Sciences

A researcher wishes to operationalize her study variables in the following manner. How
might she go about doing so? Summarize your responses in tabular form (see example
below), and supplement your table with a supporting narrative.
Age (continuous)
Gender (dichotomous)
Ethnicity (categorical)
Education (ordinal)
Income (continuous)
Marital status (categorical)
Weight (continuous)
Blood pressure (continuous)
Hypertension (dichotomous)
Body temperature (continuous)
Health insurance status (categorical)
Smoking status (dichotomous)
Cancer Stage (ordinal)
EXAMPLE:
Variable:
Name
Type
How operationalized
How measured
Age (continuous)
Etc.
Age in years
How old were you on your last birthday?
Narrative: When age is operationalized in this manner, one would merely need to query the
respondent to determine the age she turned on her last birthday. Alternatively, the

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1
researcher could ask the respondent to provide his birth date and year, and then calculate
age at a later time.

Research Methods for the Health Sciences

In s health sciences, researches, various variables are operationalised differently depending on
their nature. This operationalization is categorized as continuous, dichotomous, categorical and
ordinal (Stober, Dette & Musch, 2002, p. 370).
The table below shows how various variables are categorized
Variable Operationalization
Age Continuous
Gender Dichotomous
Ethnicity Categorical

Education Ordinal
Income Continuous
Marital status Categorical
Weight Continuous
Blood pressure Continuous
Hypertension Dichotomous
Body temperature Categorical
Health insurance status Categorical

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1

Smoking status Dichotomous
Cancer stage Ordinal

Variable Name: Age
How operationalized: Continuous
How old were you on your last birthday?
Narrative: When age is operationalized in this manner, one would merely need to query the
respondent to determine the age she turned on her last birthday. Alternatively, the researcher
could ask the respondent to provide his birth date and year, and then calculate age at a later time.
Variable Name: income
How operationalized: Continuous
What is your monthly income?
Narrative: Income falls under continuous category. When inquiring about the income of the
respondents, their level of income will be categorized into various ranges. For example, if such a
question is asked, the researcher will be given a figure that denotes the amount of salary
received. Likewise, the respondent may opt to provide the pay slip for the researcher to use it
later.
Variable Name: Weight
How operationalized: Continuous

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1
how many kilograms do you weigh
Narrative: The researcher inquires the weight of the respondent and notes it down.
Variable Name: Blood pressure
How operationalized: Continuous
What is you blood pressure
Narrative: The researcher will inquire the blood pressure of the respondent. If the respondent is
not aware, then the researcher will have to request to measure the blood pressure and record it
down.
Variable Name: Gender
How operationalized: Dichotomous
Narrative: Gender is operationalised as either female or male. Therefore, the researcher will
have to indicate whether the respondent is female or male. There is no other way that gender can
be indicated.
Variable Name: Hypertension
How operationalized: Dichotomous
Narrative: The respondents will be required to state whether they are hypertensive or no.
therefore, there will be only two response of yes of no.
Variable Name: Smoking status
How operationalized: Dichotomous

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1
Narrative: Smoking is also operationalised as dichotomous. The respondents will be asked
whether they smoke or no. The options will either yes for those that smoke and no for those that
do not smoke.
Variable Name: Ethnicity
How operationalized: Categorical
Narrative: Categorical variable normally has two or more categories (Nieuwenhoven & Klinge,
2010, p. 313). However, there is no intrinsic ordering to the categories. Ethnicity of respondents
will differ and this is what will be recorded.
Variable Name: Marital status
How operationalized: Categorical
Narrative: Marital status is also operationalised as categorical because there are different
variations or situations of marriages. Some of the respondents are married, others, divorced,
some are still single, other engaged etc.
Variable Name: Body temperature
How operationalized: Categorical
Narrative: The body temperature of individual varies from one person to another. Even though
the standard body temperature is 37 degrees Celsius, this is deemed to vary across different
respondents.
Variable Name: Health insurance status
How operationalized: Categorical

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1
Narrative: Not all people take heath insurance covers. Even though those that might have taken
the cover may not be servicing them and therefore this mixed respondents will be recorded from
various respondents.
Variable Name: Education
How operationalized: Ordinal
Narrative: Education status of people varies from one person to another. This will be captured
using this operation because of the fluctuations.
Variable Name: Cancer stage
How operationalized: Ordinal
Narrative: Stage of cancer will also be operationalised using ordinal method because, the stages
fluctuate.

RESEARCH METHODS FOR THE HEALTH SCIENCES 1

Reference

Nieuwenhoven, L., & Klinge, I. (2010). Scientific Excellence in Applying Sex- and Gender-
Sensitive Methods in Biomedical and Health Research, Journal of Women’s Health
(15409996), 19(2):313-321.
Stober, J., Dette, D. E., & Musch, J. (2002). Comparing continuous and dichotomous scoring of
the Balanced Inventory of Desirable Responding. Journal of Personality Assessment, 78,
370-389.
What is the difference between categorical, ordinal and interval variables?

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