Critique of Descriptive Statistics

Descriptive statistics provide information about the distribution (central tendency), variability and relationships existing in sample data (Katz et al., 1995). Halbesleben, Wakefield, Wakefield and Cooper (2008), in their journal article provide relevant descriptive statistics while evaluating “the relationship between staff nurse’s burnout and their perceptions of patient safety and adverse event and near-miss reporting behaviors” (pp. 561-562). The authors for instance present the means, Cronbacha alpha (α) values (where applicable), and correlation (from the correlation matrix), with the appropriateness of these statistics being evaluated below.

Since the authors used a likert scale (AHRQ), whose testing has been conducted in other samples, their assessment of the scale’s reliability in the current sample was necessary (“module d discussion”, n.d, slide 10). In this respect, the values (all above 0.81), indicate a high internal consistency thus appropriateness of the tool for current study. Secondly the authors present the mean and standard deviation to indicate the distribution of data obtained. The standard deviation values, for various variables, range from 0.62 (for hours per week) to 1.66 (for hospital tenure), indicating that for some variables the sample data (e.g. hospital tenure) was far much sparse whereas for others (e.g. hours per week) it was aggregated near the mean. Finally, the correlation matrix presented by the authors highlight the relationship that exists between any two variables in the sample population. Although other descriptive statistics such as the mode, median and quartiles, are not discussed, the statistics presented are adequate in describing the sample, existing relationships and appropriateness of the data collection tool.



Halbesleben, J. R. B., Wakefield, B. J., Wakefield, D. S. & Cooper, L. B. (2008). Nurse burnout and patient safety outcomes: nurse safety perception versus reporting behavior. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 30(5), 560-577. doi: 10.1177/0193945907311322.

Katz, R.T., Campagnolo, D.I., Goldberg, G., Parker, J.C., Pine, Z.M., & Whyte, J. (1995). Critical evaluation of clinical research. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 76, 82-93.

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