IMED2003 Essentials of Research in the Health and Medical Sciences

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 complementary unit in the Medical Sciences major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Life and Health Sciences
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 additional unit in the Medical Sciences second major sequence
The tools of research and evidence based practice have helped us answer and understand some of the most important health and medical questions and saved millions of lives—what's good for our health and what does harm in the world around us? In this unit, students are introduced to key concepts and methods used in clinical epidemiology, research study design, statistical reasoning and how it can be used to describe, monitor and manage the health of individuals and populations and in the conduct of research or other scholarly inquiry. One of the great challenges in health and medical research and its use in clinical practice is deciding whether the results are because of the treatment/intervention applied, some other influences out there in the big world, or random chance. Students apply the principles and skills of evidence based practice to critically select, read, interpret and use health and medical evidence.
Students are able to (1) explain the main principles of the scientific method including define the question, make observations, formulate hypotheses, design experiments, collect and analysis data, analyse and interpret the findings relative to the hypothesis; (2) describe the main types of epidemiological study designs (randomised controlled trials, clinical and intervention trials, cohort studies, case-control studies) and their respective strengths and limitations; (3) recognise the main data collection methods used in quantitative research including survey instruments; (4) explain the basic statistical and epidemiologic concepts of measures of disease frequency (e.g. prevalence, incidence, morbidity rates, mortality rates); (5) explain the basic statistical and epidemiologic concepts of measures of estimation—magnitude of association and risk (e.g. relative risk, absolute risk, odds ratio, attributable risk, number needed to treat); (6) explain the basic statistical and epidemiologic concepts of statistical inference (hypothesis testing, chance and statistical significance [p values], 95 per cent confidence intervals, Type I and II error); (7) identify the different sources of bias (selection, information) and confounding and identify strategies to minimise these; (8) explain the process and limitations of using the evidence of association to make a judgement about whether an association is causal (causal inference); (9) discuss the ethical, safety and professional issues involved in conducting and applying the results of medical research (i.e. respect for persons, privacy, confidentiality, autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, justice); (10) explain the basic statistical measures of validity and reliability of diagnostic and screening tests (sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, pre- and post-test probability, likelihood ratios, ROC curves); (11) describe the basic epidemiologic and evidence based practice concepts and principles (levels of evidence, define EBP, asking clinical questions using the PICO framework, critical appraisal); (12) apply principles of evidence-based practice (scientific method, research methodology and statistical analysis) to individual patient, community or society health care; (13) understand and critically appraise the methods, description and interpretation of statistical content; (14) find, interpret and critically appraise some medical and scientific evidence—published in the health/medical literature—in a scientific manner in order to address clinical or population health questions or scholarly inquiries; (15) implement some standard statistical methods using a commonly used statistical software and competently interpret the output; and (16) use evidence-based practice tools and systems, including relevant databases, to search for medical information and resources.
Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) examination—mid-semester and final; (2) written assignments and online quizzes; and (3) tutorial and practical workshop assessment and participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Helena Iredell
Unit rules
IMED2001 Body Defences
IMED2002 Blood and Drugs
IMED2004 Human Development and Genetics
Approved quota: 400—a place in the unit is determined on a first-come, first-served basis. Selection is based on time of enrolment with first places given to students enrolled in this major as a degree-specific and second to students enrolled as a second major. Any remaining places are given to those students according to when they enrol until all places are filled.
Contact hours
lectures: 3 hours per week; Practical Classes/practical workshops: 26 hours per semester
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available at the University Co-operative Bookshop (from early January) and appropriate administrative offices for students to consult. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.