This paper presents a brief overview of some of the major issues associated with research design in experimental gerontology. The intention is not to provide a comprehensive and detailed guide to experimental design and research methods. Rather, the paper focuses on a more general discussion of several issues associated with the design, implementation, and interpretation of research in an attempt to illustrate why a rudimentary knowledge of these topics is essential for all researchers and practitioners involved in the study of the aging process. Wherever possible, specific examples from the exercise science and applied health literature are selected in order to illustrate the significance of these factors for our field of expertise.
Susan C. Duncan, Lisa A. Strycker, Terry E. Duncan, and Nigel R. Chaumeton
It is important that studies on youth health behavior obtain sufficiently large representative samples so that power is adequate and results are generalizable. However, few researchers have documented procedures and methods for recruitment of a random stratified youth sample for studies on health-related behavior, specifically physical activity. This study describes the recruitment methods used to attain a stratified sample of 360 target youth (boys and girls from 10-, 12-, and 14-year-old cohorts), and a parent of each child, representing families in 58 neighborhoods. A peer of each target youth was also invited to participate. Recruitment was conducted primarily by telephone, using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) software. Approximately 38% of calls resulted in person contact, of which about 98% of families did not qualify. Of those qualified, about 68% agreed to participate. The telephone recruitment was supplemented by door-to-door recruitment in selected neighborhoods. The average cost of recruitment was approximately $99 per family by telephone and $64 door to door. Advantages and limitations of the recruitment method are discussed.
Justin A. Haegele, Jihyun Lee, and David L. Porretta
The purpose of this documentary analysis was to examine trends in research published in Adapted Physical Activity Quarterly (APAQ) over a 10-yr span. A total of 181 research articles published from 2004 to 2013 were coded and analyzed using the following categories: first-author country affiliation, theoretical framework, intervention, research methods, disability categories, and topical focus. Results indicate high frequencies of nonintervention and group-design studies, as well as a low frequency of studies that describe a theoretical or conceptual framework. Trends in disability of participants and topical focus reflect current interests of researchers publishing in APAQ. While some scholars have suggested that changes in research on adapted physical activity would occur, the results of this analysis suggest that many of these categories remain largely unchanged for research published in APAQ. This study calls attention to similarities between the results of the current analysis and previous ones.
Nikki A. Jeacocke and Louise M. Burke
When testing is undertaken to monitor an athlete’s progress toward competition goals or the effect of an intervention on athletic outcomes, sport scientists should aim to minimize extraneous variables that influence the reliability, sensitivity, or validity of performance measurement. Dietary preparation is known to influence metabolism and exercise performance. Few studies, however, systematically investigate the outcomes of protocols that acutely control or standardize dietary intake in the hours and days before a performance trial. This review discusses the nutrients and dietary components that should be standardized before performance testing and reviews current approaches to achieving this. The replication of habitual diet or dietary practices, using tools such as food diaries or dietary recalls to aid compliance and monitoring, is a common strategy, and the use of education aids to help athletes achieve dietary targets offers a similarly low burden on the researcher. However, examination of dietary intake from real-life examples of these protocols reveals large variability between and within participants. Providing participants with prepackaged diets reduces this variability but can increase the burden on participants, as well as the researcher. Until studies can better quantify the effect of different protocols of dietary standardization on performance testing, sport scientists can only use a crude cost–benefit analysis to choose the protocols they implement. At the least, study reports should provide a more comprehensive description of the dietary-standardization protocols used in the research and the effect of these on the dietary intake of participants during the period of interest.
Joanne G. Mirtschin, Sara F. Forbes, Louise E. Cato, Ida A. Heikura, Nicki Strobel, Rebecca Hall, and Louise M. Burke
The authors describe the implementation of a 3-week dietary intervention in elite race walkers at the Australian Institute of Sport, with a focus on the resources and strategies needed to accomplish a complex study of this scale. Interventions involved: traditional guidelines of high carbohydrate (CHO) availability for all training sessions; a periodized CHO diet which integrated sessions with low and high CHO availability within the same total CHO intake; and a ketogenic low-CHO high-fat diet. Seven-day menus and recipes were constructed for a communal eating setting to meet nutritional goals as well as individualized food preferences and special needs. Menus also included nutrition support before, during, and after exercise. Daily monitoring, via observation and food checklists, showed that energy and macronutrient targets were achieved. Diets were matched for energy (∼14.8 MJ/d) and protein (∼2.1 g·kg−1·day−1) and achieved desired differences for fat and CHO, with high CHO availability and periodized CHO availability: CHO = 8.5 g·kg−1·day−1, 60% energy, fat = 20% of energy and low-CHO high-fat diet: 0.5 g·kg−1·day−1 CHO, fat = 78% energy. There were no differences in micronutrient intake or density between the high CHO availability and periodized CHO availability diets; however, the micronutrient density of the low-CHO high-fat diet was significantly lower. Daily food costs per athlete were similar for each diet (∼AU$ 27 ± 10). Successful implementation and monitoring of dietary interventions in sports nutrition research of the scale of the present study require meticulous planning and the expertise of chefs and sports dietitians. Different approaches to sports nutrition support raise practical challenges around cost, micronutrient density, accommodation of special needs, and sustainability.
Andrea Bundon, Barry S. Mason, and Victoria L. Goosey-Tolfrey
This paper demonstrates how a qualitative methodology can be used to gain novel insights into the demands of wheelchair racing and the impact of particular racing chair configurations on optimal sport performance via engagement with expert users (wheelchair racers, coaches, and manufacturers). We specifically explore how expert users understand how wheels, tires, and bearings impact sport performance and how they engage, implement, or reject evidence-based research pertaining to these components. We identify areas where participants perceive there to be an immediate need for more research especially pertaining to the ability to make individualized recommendations for athletes. The findings from this project speak to the value of a qualitative research design for capturing the embodied knowledge of expert users and also make suggestions for “next step” projects pertaining to wheels, tires, and bearings drawn directly from the comments of participants.
Donna L. Goodwin and Brenda Rossow-Kimball
There has been little critical exploration of the ethical issues that arise in professional practice common to adapted physical activity. We cannot avoid moral issues as we inevitably will act in ways that will negatively affect the well-being of others. We will make choices, which in our efforts to support others, may hurt by violating dignity or infringing on rights. The aim of this paper is to open a dialogue on what constitutes ethical practice in adapted physical activity. Ethical theories including principlism, virtue ethics, ethics of care, and relational ethics provide a platform for addressing questions of right and good and wrong and bad in the field of adapted physical activity. Unpacking of stories of professional practice (including sacred, secret, and cover stories) against the lived experiences of persons experiencing disability will create a knowledge landscape in adapted physical activity that is sensitive to ethical reflection.
Byron Lai, Eunbi Lee, Mayumi Wagatsuma, Georgia Frey, Heidi Stanish, Taeyou Jung, and James H. Rimmer
interventions? (b) What current research methodological limitations and challenges affect such interventions? and (c) What are some priorities for further research within this area? To our knowledge, this was the first review of reviews regarding physical activity interventions among children and youth with
Luciana De Martin Silva and John W. Francis
took. In employing this research methodology, we were able to explore changes through multiple data collection moments, capturing the nuances of everyday practices “over a period encompassing a variety of learning experiences” ( De Martin-Silva, Fonseca, Jones, Morgan, & Mesquita, 2015 , p. 672
Guy Faulkner, Sara-Jane Finlay, and Stephannie C. Roy
News media may play a critical role in disseminating research about physical activity and health. This study examined how much physical activity research gets reported in the media and its prominence and credibility.
A content analysis was conducted of the reporting of physical activity research in Canadian national and local newspapers from November 2004 to April 2005.
Physical activity research was given some prominence and treated as news through the use of several devices to infer credibility. However, newspapers appeared to invest little in the production of physical activity research as news and information about research methodology was infrequent.
While stories reporting physical activity research were given some prominence and credibility, the lack of significant investment and the limited reporting on research methodology suggests that important aspects of research related to physical activity may not be well represented in newspaper coverage.