Critical appraisal of research study examining bacteria on student’s mobile phones. There is a scarcity of research on the bacterial contamination of mobile phones of health care workers worldwide (Kent, Marsh, May & XI, 2020, p.5). This paper will critically appraise one of the few primary research studies on this subject (Tailor, Nikita, Naiker, Naivalu, & Kumar, 2019) using a set of questions to identify the strengths and weakness of key sections of the study, namely: authorship, research question, research design, research methods and lastly limitations and results. In addition, an outline enablers and barriers to the adoption of the study recommendations or findings in relation to a given scenario and clinical question.

White (2018) maintains that an appraisal of research literature should include an appraisal of
the quality of authorship, which may include, “cited credentials, affiliations and known
expertise in the health discipline on the research topic” (p.12). The authorship of the study
being appraised in this paper (Tailor et al, 2019), comprised four authors who had a Bachelor of
medical laboratory science, and one who was a qualified dentist, affiliated with universities. It
can therefore be concluded that the authorship was a strength of this study, given cited
credentials, qualifications and affiliations. However, a weakness of this study was the omission
of a disclosure statement in the study, indicating that there was no ‘conflict of interest’. A
conflict of interest is described by White (2018, p. 6) as a situation when there are commercial,
legal, financial, or any other opposing interests that may affect the study.

Attachments:1
Title
Assessment 3: Critical appraisal of evidence: Exemplar Essay Using Fictious References
Student name: Mary Jo Smith-Jones
Z0001234
HLSC122 Semester 2, 2019
Assessment 3: Scenario 3, Critical appraisal of research study examining bacteria on student’s
mobile phones
Word count: 1263 words
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Introduction
There is a scarcity of research on the bacterial contamination of mobile phones of health care
workers worldwide (Kent, Marsh, May & XI, 2020, p.5). This paper will critically appraise one of
the few primary research studies on this subject (Tailor, Nikita, Naiker, Naivalu, & Kumar, 2019)
using a set of questions to identify the strengths and weakness of key sections of the study,
namely: authorship, research question, research design, research methods and lastly limitations
and results. In addition, an outline enablers and barriers to the adoption of the study
recommendations or findings in relation to a given scenario and clinical question.
PART A – Critical appraisal
Authorship
White (2018) maintains that an appraisal of research literature should include an appraisal of
the quality of authorship, which may include, “cited credentials, affiliations and known
expertise in the health discipline on the research topic” (p.12). The authorship of the study
being appraised in this paper (Tailor et al, 2019), comprised four authors who had a Bachelor of
medical laboratory science, and one who was a qualified dentist, affiliated with universities. It
can therefore be concluded that the authorship was a strength of this study, given cited
credentials, qualifications and affiliations. However, a weakness of this study was the omission
of a disclosure statement in the study, indicating that there was no ‘conflict of interest’. A
conflict of interest is described by White (2018, p. 6) as a situation when there are commercial,
legal, financial, or any other opposing interests that may affect the study.
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Research question & Justification
This study (Tailor et al., 2019) sought to identify the “colonisation of microorganisms and the
variety of bacteria present” on the mobile phones of students at a university in Fiji (p. 106). The
justification for the research – found in the ‘introduction’ – was a weakness of this paper, as
discussion was supported by only eight studies, and these were studies published from 2009 to
2014, rather than close to the date of the study’s publication of 2019. However, the authors did
note three key points in this section, being: mobile phones are used by health care
workers(HCW) in clinical settings; studies have reported that HCWs frequently touch their
mobile phones, and seldom clean them; and argued that their study was filling a gap in the
literature, on how contaminated these devices can be. Thus, the discussion within the
introduction section was a strength of this study, as it was well structured, and demonstrated
several solid arguments to support the undertaking of this study.
Research design
The authors stated that they used a cross-sectional research design, with randomisation (Tailor
et al, 2019, p. 106). A cross-sectional design is described as a quantitative approach, that
samples a population, at a given time, and when used with randomisation for sample selection
reduces the risk of sampling or selection bias (White, 2020, p.100). The authors’ choice of a
quantitative approach was appropriate for the study aim, given the need to obtain quantitative
laboratory data, at a specific time in a sample of a population (i.e. undergraduate health
professional students), which is a strength of this study. However, the authors did not explain
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their rationale for choosing their design, which is a weakness of the study. Further discussion of
bias will follow in the ‘research methods’ section.
Research methods
With regard to sample selection, a weakness of the study, was the authors’ omission details
related to selecting the 50 students, such as: what were students studying?, what year level
were they ?, were student names picked from student records?, or did the authors randomly
approach students in the university grounds? In addition, although the authors obtained
informed consent from each student, they failed to mention if the Ethic’s Committee of the Fiji
National University approved the study, which is a significant omission. It is surprising that this
study was therefore actually published at all, without a statement indicating this (Jones et al.,
2018). The authors though –which is a strength – stated that specimen from 50 mobile phones
were collected and cultured according to a “standard laboratory protocol” (Tailor et al, 2019, p.
106). The reader is left to assume, as medical laboratory scientists, the authors followed
standard practice in collecting and processing swabs taken from the mobile phones. A strength
of the study was the level of detail provided for data collection and data analysis, with the
authors using basic descriptive statistics to analyse the results, which were sufficient, with the
inclusion of large coloured tables and figures to illustrate the findings. Measurement bias –
faulty methods of data collection – was a problem in this study, as the authors stated they did
not follow protocol when swabbing phones, with regard to use of clean gloves for each phone
(Reid & Mathers, 2016, p.34; Tailor et a., 2019, p.101).
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Results and Limitations
Tailor et al. (2019) found that all 50 mobile phones were colonised with at least one
microorganism and in total found 11 different bacteria amongst the sample (Tailor et al. 2019,
p. 109). As Jones et al. (2018) state, the results of research studies should clearly answer the
research question or aim, while enhancing their findings with appropriate coloured figures or
tables. Two limitations cited by Tailor et al (p. 109) related to a small sample size, and the
breaking of standard laboratory protocol when reusing gloves when swabbing mobile phones.
These limitations impact negatively on the implementation of the study findings, as sample size
can impact representativeness of the sample, and constitutes a sampling error (White, 2020). A
breach in standard protocol could have caused cross contamination of phones, leading to
flawed findings.
PART B – Enablers and Barriers
The application of the study’s recommendations should be considered in light of a provide
scenario where a qualified nurse is becoming concerned about the number of mobile phones
being used by students on placement. Tailor et al. (2019) recommended: health professional
undergraduate students receive comprehensive education on infection control practices
(including mobile phone disinfection); restrictions be imposed on where mobile phones can be
used in patient care areas; and signage be created for mobile phone disinfection similar to what
is seen with hand washing in health care services. At the organizational level, barriers to the
adoption of these recommendations can include: a lack of time by staff and heavy workloads to
appropriately review the feasibility of the recommendations; and a workplace culture that does
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not value evidence-based practice (White, 2020, p.190). In addition, enablers that support
adoption of the recommendations may include: helping students understand the benefits to
patients of disinfecting their phones and restricting their use in care areas; and to educate all
staff – using well designed posters in clinical areas – helping to increase awareness in general of
mobile phones as vectors for infections in health care.
Conclusion
This critical appraisal of the primary research study can conclude that Tailor et al. (2019) choose
to study an important topic – mobile phone bacterial contamination – when few studies had
been published on the subject. Several key weaknesses of the study were revealed including
the lack of disclosure declaration, lack of rationales for selection of research design and sample
size, sampling and measurement bias, and omission of a human ethics approval. However,
Tailor et al. (2019) identified, as a result if their expertise and access to laboratory facilities,
detailed analysis of swabs and a wide range of microorganisms (11) found on the sample. They
acknowledged their study’s limitations, to their credit, and made three very well thought
through recommendations. It remains now for more research to be conducted on this very
important topic.
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References
Jones, B., Smith, J., Barker, J.S., Finn, K., Donn, K., Yebohha, J., Withers, B.M. (2018). Putting
research into practice: A primer for undergraduate health professional students.
London, UK; Bartlett & Jones.
Kent, S., Marsh, T.R., May, B., & XI, Y. (2020). A cross-sectional study of hospital acquired
infections traced to staff attire and equipment. Evidence Based Practice in New
Zealand Health Care, 3(4), 1-100. Doi: 10.11111.ghd.345
Reid, V., & Mathers, S. (2016). Textbook of health research: Evidence-based practice. New York,
NY: John Wiley & Sons.
Tailor, B., Nikita, N., Naicker, A., Naivalu, T., & Arvind Kumar, R. (2019). What bacteria are
present on the mobile phones of students? New Zealand Journal of Medical
Laboratory Science, 73(3), 106–110. https://www.nzimls.org.nz/journalsrecent,article,,77,333,What+bacteria+are+present+on+the+mobile+phones+of+stu
dents%3F.html
White, E.R. (2020). A student handbook of primary research critical appraisal. London, UK:
Elsevier.