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Using Marketing Research Methods

Given that heart disease and stroke (cardiovascular disease) are a leading killer responsible for the death of thousands of people in the United States and elsewhere, it is most important that researchers and health-care professionals should take interest in sensitizing members of the public on some of the available and practical ways of living free of the killer disease. Although a range of factors including one’s heredity and physical injuries increase one’s risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, physical inactivity has been associated with the same.

The strong relationship between individuals’ level and frequency of physical activity and their cardio-vascular health inform the need for this study at whose heart is the success of promotion campaign meant to encourage a culture of physical activity. This paper provides a critique of the method used in the study, the findings and the interpretation of the same. The most prominent cause of criticism is the use of a qualitative scale to qualify and classify callers for the study.

On the surface, it appears rational to ask participants to express confidence in their ability to remain physically active on a scale ranging from “very unconfident” to “very confident. ” Using a similar scale to gauge their perceived risk of developing cardiovascular disease may also appear acceptable. However, different people interpret qualitative scales differently. An impressive percentage of overweight and physically inactive individuals live in continuous denial and many participants in this study could therefore, out of ignorance or denial, understate their risk of suffering stroke or developing cardiovascular disease.

Individuals who have not been diagnosed with blood pressure, cholestrol-related and smoking-related problems are more likely to underestimate their risk of developing cardiovascular disease, even though they are at a significantly higher risk than those under doctor’s care. Health care professionals have associated old age with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Yet the quantitative scale results in “no statistically significant difference by age in the proportions reporting medium to high perceived risk heart disease…” (Poscente, Rothstein & Irvine, 2002).

It is likely that some participants may have changed their perception of the risk of developing heart disease in the three months between the telephone interview and the follow-up programme. Market segmentation based on criteria or scales which can be interpreted differently by different people carries with it a higher risk of putting participants into the wrong classes or into classes they would not fall in if clearer and more discriminating scales were used.

Segmentation of any population requires that the researchers split the entire population of categorize it to take care of the entire population. It is assumed that every member of that population automatically falls into one or several of those classes. For instance, in categorizing the most common barriers to people’s ability and willingness to engage in healthy physical activity, the researchers list five common barriers namely; lack of time, bad mood, fatigue, weather, and vacation (Poscente, Rothstein & Irvine, 2002).

While such a list takes care of a large proportion of the population, it overlooks many others who may record a physically inactive lifestyle as a result of poor health, disability, or unwillingness to participate in physically exerting activity. For this study therefore, the participants had to select from a list of the barriers provided by the researchers, including those whose principal challenges were not listed. The implication is that there is a high likelihood of introduction of faulty data into the data collected during the study.

Predictably, the results and the interpretation of such data can actually lead to errors or misleading information. The impact of these seemingly negligible inaccuracies would be magnified if the data, results and interpretation of this study were used in other studies, as this would compromise the reliability and accuracy of all the studies.

Reference

Poscente, N. , Rothstein, M. & Irvine, J. (2002). Using Marketing Research Methods to Evaluate a Stage-Specific Intervention. American Journal of Health Behavior 26(4): pp 243-251.

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