During the Christmas ‘break’, though we were not obligated to be in class, we had two big projects- an individual assignment and a group project. In this blog, I want to highlight the individual assignments because they were a gateway into a larger research world that we haven’t yet been exposed to.
Our assignment was to design our own study with a research question that is, preferably, close to what we want to work on as our master thesis. Designing this study consisted of doing a rationale for its design(literature review), designing a written questionnaire, making sure that we included standardized and validated questions, pre-testing the questionnaire, planning our sampling methods (calculating our sample size and selection, meaning how many people we would want in our study), and finally creating a computer database for entering the data (SPSS).
I know this sounds like Latin for non-epidemiology individuals so I want to elaborate more and write about what 5 of my colleagues did for their individual assignment.
Hilda comes from Iceland and the title for her individual assignment was ‘Association between social media use and symptoms of depression and anxiety among young adults’. Hilda has a background in psychology so this is just down her alley. Though she is not particularly interested in social media use for her thesis work, she would like to continue working with mental health problems, in particular, stress and anxiety. This was a great opportunity for her to explore her psychology interest and apply it in a new setting-Epidemiology. The methodology aspect of the project was the reason she stayed at home the whole weekend.
Zee comes from Vietnam and she wanted to see the prevalence of dementia among elderly immigrants in Sweden by using estimation from a register data. We have constantly been told about Sweden and its incredible registry systems and Zee made good use of it. Zee has a background in public health and she is very much interested in methodology and biostatistics and wants to do a systematic review for her master thesis. As Sweden is a country with a high proportion of the elderly, she believes elderly health care is even more important. Going hand in hand, Sweden is home to many immigrants and there haven’t been many studies that explore dementia in the elderly immigrant population in Sweden. She feels like this project was a good Segway into research but she doesn’t believe we learned enough to have executed it well.
Ning is a student from China who is a medical doctor and a biomedical researcher. He wanted to explore how to design a questionnaire for REM sleep disorders in preclinical Parkinson’s disease. This is the direction that Ning will possibly go for his final thesis as well. His main interest is within neuroscience (both basic and clinical) and as he has done Parkinson’s disease (PD) related research project before, he believes the best thing we can do for treating PD is early diagnose. Nowadays, many therapies are not applicable because, in most cases, the disease has surpassed the early stages by the time it is diagnosed. By identifying certain symptoms before Parkinson-like motor symptoms occur, we can most likely catch it at its early stage. His questionnaire is designed to investigate the prevalence of one of the most common pre-motor symptom, REM sleep disorder, in the elderly population and the potential relationship to motor symptoms. He enjoyed the project because it trained us with many practical aspects which we did not know or take notice of. It would have been better if the projects were assessed by experts in the respective fields.
A medical doctor from Tanzania, Lulu designed a cross-sectional survey to look at the determinants of unsafe sex and associated risks for sexually transmitted infections in Stockholm among individuals aged 15-29 year old. She has had experience in an international organization working with HIV/AIDS and she realized that different geographical areas have different social cultural practices that could, in turn, change the determinants and distribution of certain public health related events. Identifying these key determinants is necessary for designating and implementing interventions in the area under study. Just like most of our classmates, Lulu also appreciated the practical aspect of this project.
A physician from Mexico, Alejandro did a research design to study about the occupational exposure to lead among Mexican workers. He is very certain that this is his master thesis as he is interested in occupational-related diseases and their impact on public health. This project allowed him to plan his future research and gave him an insight into (at a small scale) what type of preparation (eg: a way to measure the outcome he is interested in with a survey) he would need to do for the future.
Our class is full of so many ideas and that’s what great research is made of- great ideas and great ideas bear great fruit!! It is no surprise that ‘Karolinska Institutet accounts for the single largest share of all academic medical research conducted in Sweden’.
Stay tuned, lovely people!