SOCW 3308-002 Spring 2021 1
Instructions for Research Proposal Paper
Student Learning Outcomes: Addresses competencies 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9.
The goal of this assignment is to challenge you to integrate and apply majority of the
information that you will learn through this class over the course of the semester to
develop a research proposal. The research proposal can be quantitative or qualitative.
Once you have identified a problem, you will then undertake a brief literature review on
the topic and come up with objectives/research questions that your proposal will seek to
address/answer. You then select an appropriate methodology based on consultation with
the instructor. The mode of data collection may include surveys, interviews with key
stakeholders, focus groups, or analysis of existing data, among others.
Your research proposal will typically involve: (1) identifying the problem; (2) describing
the nature and extent of the problem; (3) conducting a literature review of the problem
and what past studies have found with respect to your problem; (4) identifying gaps in the
literature and state the objective(s)/research question(s) that the proposal will be
addressing; (5) proposing a method for that you will want to use to carry out the research
and explaining the process in detail; (6) proposing a method that you will use in
collecting the data; and (7) discussing possible implications that could arise if you are
able to carry out the proposed research.
Please submit the assignment using the Canvas Assignment tab:
1. Final Research Proposal Paper
Save the file using the following format for the name:
MyName – Final Research Proposal Paper.doc
Papers should be typed, double spaced, using 1-inch margins, 12 point Times New
Roman font. Title and reference pages are required. An abstract is not required. Follow
APA 6th Edition style guidelines. The Research Proposal Paper (not including title
and reference pages) should be between 5 to 7 pages.
SOCW 3308 002 Spring 2021 2
Dr. Aaron Hagedorn
Please follow the outline listed below to structure your paper and ensure that you are
including all of the relevant information.
I. Introduction and Background (5 pts.)
a. Introduce the problem and briefly state the magnitude of the problem.
E..g., Opioid misuse is a major public health issue in the United States,
and has emerged as the greatest contributor to substance overdose-related
deaths among adults (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2017).
Recent estimates confirm that opioid addiction among the adult U.S.
population is at an all-time high, with some studies reporting that as low
as 4% (Edlund et al., 2010; Vowles et al., 2015) to as high as 23%
(Jamison, Butler, Budman, Edwards, & Wasan, 2010; Meltzer et al.,
2011; Meltzer et al., 2012) of adults in the U.S. are addicted to opioids.
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
examined data on all-cause mortality, and found that drug overdoses
exceeded more than 60,000 in 2016, greater than any year on record
(O’Donnell, Halpin, Mattson, Goldberger, & Gladden, 2017).
a. Identify the gap in the literature. E.g., Although a number of public health
measures have been put in place in the U.S. to address the unprecedented
epidemic of opioid overdose (Hahn, 2011; Hampton, 2004; Jones,
Fullwood, & Hawthorn, 2012; Substance abuse and mental health
services administration, 2009), the use of MBSR as a therapeutic
intervention to treat individuals with OUD has not been fully tried and
tested, and certainly none among individuals suffering from comorbid
CLBP and OUD.
II. Literature Review (15 pts.)
a. What else has been done in terms of researching this or similar
problems and what has past studies found regarding this problem?
b. What has studies found with respect to the effect of age, race, gender,
sexual orientation on this problem
c. Where else has your methodology been used?
d. What can we learn from what others have done regarding this
E..g., Analyzing data from the CDC, Rudd et al. (2016) also found that the
rate of opioid overdose-related deaths in 2014 increased significantly for
both sexes across all age and racial groups in the U.S. This increase in
opioid overdose-related deaths in part has been attributed to the increased
prescribing of opioid analgesics in the management of postoperative pain
(Ballantyne, 2017; Paulozzi, Jones, & Mack, 2015; Phillips, Ford, Bonnie,
& National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, 2017;
Sadhasivam & Chidambaran, 2012; Stumbo et al., 2017). As a result,
some treatment interventions have been developed to treat comorbid
CLBP and OUD and to prevent relapse. CBT is one behavioral
intervention which has received considerable support in treating
individuals with SUD, including opioid addiction (Bell, daCosta
DiBonaventura, Witt, Ben-Joseph, & Reeve, 2017; Dowell, Haegerich, &
Chou, 2016; Park et al., 2016; Rasu, Sohraby, Cunningham, & Knell,
SOCW 5308 008/014 Spring 2020 3
Dr. Philip Baiden
2013). However, a burgeoning number of studies suggests that
interventions which include a mindfulness component, such as MBSR, are
more effective in preventing relapse than CBT (Bell et al., 2017; Dowell et
al., 2016; Park et al., 2016; Rasu et al., 2013).
III. Objective(s)/Research question(s)/hypothesis(es) (10 pts.)
a. What are your objectives, or what questions are you trying to answer,
or what are your hypotheses?*
*If you are proposing a qualitative study then you will not need a
hypothesis. You should have a hypothesis if you are proposing to use a
quantitative methodology and especially a quasi-, or experimental design.
E.g., The following two hypothesis-driven objectives will be addressed: 1)
To conduct a randomized clinical trial (RCT) to test the relative efficacy of
mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), cognitive behavioral therapy
(CBT), and treatment-as-usual (TAU) in treating patients with comorbid
opioid-use disorder (OUD) and comorbid chronic low back pain (CLBP).
Hypothesis: The MBSR and CBT components of the interdisciplinary
intervention program will be more efficacious than the TAU component;
2) To investigate the physical and mental health outcomes produced by
these interventions, as well as individual differences in outcomes.
Hypothesis: The measurement of individual variations in the
biopsychosocial measures will serve as outcomes, and enable us to
develop unique “flags” for change to document the efficacy of the
IV. Methodology (50 pts.)
a. What will be the sample size
b. What sampling method will you be using (i.e., probability, nonprobability, etc.)
c. Design (i.e., qualitative, quantitative, exploratory, survey, quasi-, or
experimental design, etc.)
i. If you are proposing a quasi or experimental design, describe in
detail the key component of the intervention and how it will be
ii. E.g., Mindfulness has been defined by Kabat-Zinn (1994) as
“paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present
moment, and non-judgmentally” (p. 4). A key component of MBSR
is meditation which is often compared with normal everyday
mental functioning, and may be a valuable intervention for
individuals with OUD, whose mental state is often craving for
substances or preoccupied with thoughts about how to get their
“next fix” (Aleksandra Zgierska et al., 2009). MBSR encourages
individuals to be mindful of their cravings and acknowledge that
these cravings are fleeting (Katz & Toner, 2013). It uses evidencebased practices to lower the likelihood and severity of relapse for
individuals with SUD after receiving treatment (Bowen et al.,
2014). The intervention draws on select components of relapse-
SOCW 5308 008/014 Spring 2020 4
Dr. Philip Baiden
prevention therapy (Marlatt & Gordon, 1985) in identifying
underlying risk factors and common precursors of relapse (Daley
& Marlatt, 2006; Kabat-Zinn, 1994; Kabat-Zinn & Hanh, 2009;
Marlatt & Gordon, 1985). Bowen et al. (2009) undertook a RCT to
test the efficacy of MBSR in substance use relapse-prevention and
found that, compared with a 12- step program, MBSR was
associated with decreased alcohol and drug use during a 2-month
post-intervention period, and a decreased craving for drug use and
increased acceptance and awareness during a 4-month postintervention period. Various systematic reviews (Bell et al., 2017;
Dowell et al., 2016; Park et al., 2016; Rasu et al., 2013) and metaanalyses (Bell et al., 2017; Dowell et al., 2016; Park et al., 2016;
Rasu et al., 2013) have also found MBSR to be effective in helping
individuals to cope with their clinical and non-clinical problems.
Most recently, Cherkin et al. (2016) and others (Bell et al., 2017;
Dowell et al., 2016; Park et al., 2016; Rasu et al., 2013) have also
found that MBSR was as effective as CBT in reducing pain and
disability in CLBP. To the best of our knowledge, although
supported by other studies (see e.g., Brewer et al., 2009; Zgierska
et al., 2008) of MBSR in treating individuals with SUD, this
present proposal is the first RCT to investigate the efficacy of
MBSR, CBT, and treatment-as-usual (TAU) on 12-month follow-up
iii. How will be intervention be delivered?
E.g., The MBSR intervention group will receive an integrated
mindfulness-based meditation, which will be a manualized 10-week
intervention designed to reduce risk factors associated with
addiction and psychosocial distress due to pain (Kabat-Zinn,
1982; Kabat-Zinn, 1994). Following the approach suggested by
Garland et al. (2016), the MBSR sessions will involve mindfulness
training to target automatic-habit behavior that can help regulate
negative emotions and foster a sense of meaningfulness in life.
MBSR participants will be provided with psychoeducation on
topics about substance use and addiction, as well as general
coping skills for CLBP.
d. How are you going to collect your data? (e.g., in-depth interview,
focus group discussions, face-to-face questionnaire, mailed
questionnaire, telephone question, or online survey?)
e. If qualitative, state some of the key interview questions or focus group
questions and include an interview guide as an appendix
f. Measurement (NOT NEEDED IF YOU ARE PROPOSING A
i. What is your dependent and independent variables and how will
you measure them?
ii. What has past studies found with respect to the reliability and
validity of your measures?
SOCW 3308 002 Spring 2021 5
Dr. Aaron Hagedorn
V. Implications (5 pts.)
a. What are some of the possible implications that could results from
undertaken this research?
Overall quality of the paper (10 pts.)
Technical Components – APA, reference page, etc. (5 pts.)
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