Saturday, January 31, 2009

COPESing With Research



Today in class, we discussed COPES questions. These questions are used by clinicians who are involved in research. Since this lecture was somewhat central to this entire class, I thought it might be helpful to have some additional information. Below is a link relating to COPES questions. It provides a grid that may assist you when trying to develop your own COPES questions.

Explore the exciting world of COPES questions.

38 comments:

  1. Josh, are we supposed to post here or will you add something else?

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  2. Josh, are we supposed to post here or will you add something else?

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  3. Original Post by: Julie Lindsey

    I believe COPES is best summarized as: Client focused, evidence based solutions to everyday problems. I feel that COPES questions are essential for social work research for three reasons. First, COPES questions assist the researcher in focusing on the client’s needs. Second, COPES questions assist the researcher in focusing on solving problems of everyday life. Last but not least, COPES questions assist the researcher in clarifying exactly what they are looking for and what the desired outcome will be

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  4. After going over the powerpoint slides and viewing the information on COPES questions, I must admit that this method does not seem to be any easier than generating a research question like the ones in the Royse textbook. I think that it is a wonderful research techinque in it's general intent, but not faster or easier than any other research technique. I do like that this technique is client oriented and that it is can be applied to situations in a practical sense. I think sometimes in wanting to do a great job of being a social worker, some professionals do forget about the client population that we serve and their individual environment that they live in. The one thing that the COPES method has done for me is to make me "really" think of the research question that I want to pose. It also seemed to help me clarify who, what, were, and how I want to help my potential clients accomplish their goals successfully. When we were doing the practice exercise in class, I found myself frustrated with this exercise because it was harder to do than I imagined. I think that it was a good exercise because it showed me that it wasn't about me being a good social worker, it was about making sure that I do everything in my power to help my clients find the best intervention available. I do think that, like other research tools, this method will help professionals design a well built research question that will yield results that have been throughly researched and should provide evidence that can be used when searching for effective interventions for client populations.

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  5. Are we required to post a response to this blog?

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  6. Misty Macon, MontgomeryFebruary 3, 2009 at 5:11 PM

    Original Post
    Misty Macon

    I have to admit that I truly struggled with some of the elements involved in creating COPES questions today. For some reason my brain would not or could not wrap around this new way to look at things. While it seems that listing the information on a grid in order to look at the best way to ask a question to get an answer makes sense, it was really hard. I do not know if I would ever stop to use this in my everyday life or not. I think we all probably use portions of this idea each day, but we do not call it COPES questions. Even though the process was hard, I did get insight into how best to ask a question so that you get the answers you are looking for, even if they are not exactly what you would expect them to be. That is a very helpful outcome of this information and one that we could all use in everyday life.

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  7. We’ve had discussions in the first couple of classes of the bad reputation that research gets. Sometimes research is considered to be a necessary evil and a means to an end, rather than something that people enjoy. Even for those who see why research is important, it can become overwhelming. The COPES question is way to make research practical and feasible. It breaks down the process and the purpose of research and helps people to focus in what they really want to find. Ms. Vickerstaff mentioned in class that it can be easy when you are researching to get sidetracked, and it is staying focused that leads you to a good COPES question.

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  8. For much of the last three years I have worked in the mental health field, and I have used COPES questions without even realizing it. For instance, when working with Schizophrenic clients I have made decisions about whether or not to refer them to group or individual therapy. As time passed, I observed the effectiveness of these respective treatments on the clientele's positive and negative symptoms. Based on these observations, I made a more suffient determination as to the better mode of treatment...this made the referral process more valid. Essentially, this is the same process as a COPES questions.

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  9. In response to Julie's post, COPES questions are essential in research practice because they provide specific results to a client's problem. They provide clarity to the situation, resulting in a more detailed and indivdualized response.

    -Melanie Reeves

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  10. Response to Melinda Lanier by Julie Lindsey

    I could definitely see myself getting sidetracked when researching a topic. The more you research a topic that you are interested in, the more interesting information you find. I guess that is why COPES question are important in order to keep you focused. I still think that although I may formulate a COPES question that it will have the potential to evolve into a different COPES question as you find more information. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think that it will be almost impossible not to revise your COPES question as you begin your research.

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  11. Response to Melinda Lanier by Julie Lindsey

    I could definitely see myself getting sidetracked when researching a topic. The more you research a topic that you are interested in, the more interesting information you find. I guess that is why COPES question are important in order to keep you focused. I still think that although I may formulate a COPES question that it will have the potential to evolve into a different COPES question as you find more information. I guess what I am trying to say is that I think that it will be almost impossible not to revise your COPES question as you begin your research.

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  12. The COPEs process seems simple enough. It makes sense as well. However, to me the process is a little more difficult that it seems it should be from just reading this blog information and from the information we learned in class. Specifically, I get confused when writing the questions and often find that the type of question that I was intending to write seems more like another type question. For example, the assessment question may seem more like one of the other types of questions such as the risk or prevention one. I will continue to work on this area of weakness and hope to be able to "get it" in the future.

    Original by Kristi Maddox

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  13. In response to Misty Macon's post, I was confused as well. I kept getting the types of questions mixed up and had a hard time distinguishing one type of question from the other. I guess over time we will come to understand this better. I'm sure the more often you use it, the better able to formulate the right types of questions in order to find the best research.

    Response by Kristi Maddox

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  14. Copes is very difficult for me to follow I hope that throughout this research class I will be able to adapt to this method of questioning.In undergrad I was able to adapt to research,hopefully this method will allow me to adjust.

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  15. Original by Shija

    A COPES question is something a social worker want to answer in order to build knowledge. It is Client- oriented (concern issues that are central to the welfare of the client and to those whose lives are affected by the client), Practical (have practical significance if they concern problems that arise frequently in everyday practice), and Evidence search (a question must be posed specifically enough to get an answer in an electronic search). Forming a COPES question is really tough, but after reviewing the information in class it became more understandable. I hope to get a more thorough understanding. I now know that in the process of forming the COPES question there are questions that need to be answered (ie. intended result or outcome, alternative course of action, course of action considering).

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  16. Respone to kippsta by Shija

    I agree that sometimes we use COPES questions when we are helping clients to determine what would benefit a specific client. With a better understanding of COPES question I now see myself in internship using it more with PTSD clients.

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  17. The COPES process is very frustrating to me. I understand the general concept, but it is the process equivalent to "splitting hairs" in my opinion. This is not to say that the instructors have not done a good job in explaining this concept, its just that it makes something that should seem simple, become harder than it should be. For me it seems that a question could fall into any of the categories. If this is the case, why go to the trouble of identifying the type of question? Just a thought.
    Original Posting by: Brent Eubanks

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  18. Respone to Melinda Lanier's Original Post:

    The process of conducting "research" is very frustrating to me, because I have my own methods of conducting my work. I agree with you that the COPES process is meant to keep students/researchers from becoming sidetracked, but it is still difficult, when this is your first experience with the process.
    Response by: Brent Eubanks

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  19. I personally believe that COPES questions are a good method of conducting research but they seems to be a waste of time to me. I appreciate the technique designed to formulate questions but the MOLES process was too complicated. Maybe if a simple method could be designed from the original it would be better. Back in the earlier days, the process of research was more important because computers were not used as much and the amount of obtainable information was not available. But hey..I just want to get through the two classes and get to a job...don't you?

    Tomi Williams' original post

    I would personally rather have a class on social work burn-out.

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  20. Response to Brent's post.....

    I agree with Brent and Melinda concerning the COPES questions. I would maybe appreciate the process if computers and google was not available. Me personally, I would rather have a class or two on PTSD and social work burnout. No offense to the instructors, they are teaching it the best they can but I think it is boring and somewhat a waste of time.

    Tomi Williams' response post

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  21. The copes process, although complicated, is a way to help researchers stay focused on what they are attempting to prove or disprove. I can see how research would be more random or scattered if they did not begin with a copes question in order to stay focused on their desired outcome. This is all new to me and I admit confusing but the more that I work with it the easier is is becoming. Hopefully it will all click soon.

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  22. Original Post for COPES Questions
    by: Shanté Hamm

    I have summed COPES questions as being very detailed questions related to not only the “clients’” needs but what is beneficial for and from his or her macro-system as well. A client’s micro, messo, and macro system does influence their life, which in turn has an affect on the type of practice needed to assist them. I believe the questions are formed to find practical data for each unique client type and problem based on a cause and affect system. I believe it’s based on a cause and affect system because of the alternate course of action used to assist with the intended accomplishment. Social Workers may use this method of study to improve their knowledge and skills with assisting their clients as a whole.

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  23. Shanté’s response to Diane Watson’s posting

    This is new to me as well, but it seems that COPES can be beneficial; practice makes perfect. Not really, but practicing does help. (smile) I perceive COPES as being a detailed method for social workers to enhance their knowledge and skills to better serve their clients.

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  24. I must agree that I struggle with differentiating between the types of COPES questions, but definetly think it is a useful tool to use in research. It is particularly useful when deciding what you want to research. I took a research class in undergrad and remember feeling very confused because I had so many thoughts about what I wanted to do. Using COPES helps to organize my thoughts while establishing my research question. It cuts down on stress for me because I don't have to struggle with the thought of what my paper will be about.

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  25. In response to Tomi:
    MOLES was way to complicated and to me was more of a waste of time than COPES questions. I can see the purpose of using COPES to help create a research question, but MOLES made no sense to me. It was creating a chart of different ways to say the same thing! I can't think of a reason why I need a chart to do that!

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  26. I think that COPES is the hardest concept to grasp. I feel like I can't make the best decision as where my COPES question fits. I do understand why it is used; I don't think that my mind as wrapped around the concept of how to use it. What is the purpose for the chart? It seems like busy work!!!!.

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  27. Response to Shante:

    I do agree with you in saying that all clients are different and we must come up with different methods to better serve them and address their needs. I do think this system is beneficial to Social Workers in enhancing our knowledge and skills.

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  28. Orginal Post
    COPE questions are used to formulate a evidence based practice question that will allow us to do research. I really found that this is difficult to follow. It has too many sections on how to form a question. In undergrad it was cut and dry. You write a question get it approved and move on. This has really made it harder for me to grasp.

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  29. Orginal,Deidre
    COPE questions are used to formulate evidence based practice question that will allow us to do research. I really found that this is difficult to follow. It has too many sections on how to form a question. In undergrad it was cut and dry. You write a question get it approved and move on. This has really made it harder for me to grasp.

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  30. Deidre's
    Response to Misty,
    I must agree with you. It felt like I was caught in a worldwind. I could not grasp the concept none whatsoever. I am sure that it will pick up before it get worse. However, there is always away of learning to help us identify with our clients.

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  31. The lesson on COPES Questions was a difficult one for me. Not because COPES Question are difficult, but because all of my previous research education and experience focused on developing research questions (which are less rigid and therefore easier to develop). I’ve now have to change my method of thinking. According to the lecture, COPES questions are more relevant to social work because they focus on specific issues that pertain to specific demographics. I am dedicated to learning this client-oriented style of research, and I hope that this course will assist me in having a fuller understanding of how to apply this technique in practice.

    Marashia S. McCormick

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  32. The lesson on COPES Questions was a difficult one for me. Not because COPES Question are difficult, but because all of my previous research education and experience focused on developing research questions (which are less rigid and therefore easier to develop). I’ve now have to change my method of thinking. According to the lecture, COPES questions are more relevant to social work because they focus on specific issues that pertain to specific demographics. I am dedicated to learning this client-oriented style of research, and I hope that this course will assist me in having a fuller understanding of how to apply this technique in practice.

    Marashia S. McCormick

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  33. Marashia S. McCormick
    (In Response to Misty’s Post)

    Misty, I’ve got to admit, it’s reassuring to know that I’m not the only that struggled with COPES questions. In my original post, I also talked about the “wrapping around this new way to look at things”. I don’t think that COPES is as hard as it seems. I think it’s probably just one of those things we got to reprogram ourselves to get in the habit of doing. There are obviously several benefits to applying COPES in research. Hopefully we’ll have a better understanding of this concept by the end of this semester.

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  34. Patricia Ford
    On Copes Questions

    When COPES questions were initially posed to the class, I felt as though I was in a foreign language classroom. I wrote a note to one of my classmates questioning whether she understood research. I guess I wondered if I was the only one struggling with the material being presented. I must say, however, I feel I have become a little more at ease with COPES questions. After the discussion on the different types of COPES questions, I learned the description question was the hardest to grasp. In my undergrad research class, we developed our own research project. The question I ask myself now is why. There were so many limitations in that final project that were not mentioned in the paper. There were so many limitations I did not even consider. Part of the reason was the topic of my final paper was too broad. Copes Questions and MOLEs are useful tools in narrowing down your topic and finding relevant information on that topic. It is a frustrating and tedious process but I can clearly see the benefits.

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  35. Patricia Ford
    Response to Diane Watson

    I agree with Diane that Copes is a way of keeping the researcher focused on what they are attempting to prove or disprove. The amount of information regarding various topics can be extremely overwhelming and utilizing the COPES and MOLES aids in reducing the amount of information you get to only what is relevant to your particular topic.

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  36. Patricia Ford
    Response to Diane Watson

    I agree with Diane that Copes is a way of keeping the researcher focused on what they are attempting to prove or disprove. The amount of information regarding various topics can be extremely overwhelming and utilizing the COPES and MOLES aids in reducing the amount of information you get to only what is relevant to your particular topic.

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  37. Original Post by Carrie Wells

    Being new to using COPES questions, I wondered why it had to be so specific. Why couldn’t you just think of a question and research it? After studying COPES questions, it is much clearer why questions have to be structured in such a specific way. Good COPES questions provide clarity to what you are researching. It allows you to stay on target and to save time. There is an enormous amount of evidence to search through, so by having a specific question, you can search for research that is only relevant to your precise needs. I may have a better understanding of why we need to use COPES questions for EBP, but I’m still not confident about which type of COPES question I should use with certain situations. I’m sure my confidence will increase with practice.

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  38. Response to Julia
    By Carrie Wells

    I also struggled with figuring out which type of COPES question to use, but I agree that COPES questions are necessary in order to develop an organized research topic. It helps keep you focused on exactly what you need to research without wasting time on evidence that is not relevant to your client’s needs.

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