Respiratory Care Research vector image

Respiratory Care Research: Overview and Practice Questions

by | Updated: May 15, 2024

Respiratory care research plays a critical role in advancing our understanding and treatment of respiratory disorders.

With the prevalence of respiratory illnesses on the rise globally, there is an increasing demand for evidence-based approaches to improve patient outcomes and enhance the quality of care provided.

This article explores the significance of respiratory care research in addressing the challenges posed by respiratory conditions.

Free Access
25+ RRT Cheat Sheets and Quizzes

Get instant access to 25+ premium quizzes, mini-courses, and downloadable cheat sheets for FREE.

What is Respiratory Care Research?

Respiratory care research involves the scientific investigation of various aspects related to respiratory care, which encompasses the assessment, diagnosis, treatment, and management of acute and chronic diseases affecting the respiratory system.

This field of research may include studies on respiratory pharmacology, physiology, and pathology, as well as evaluations of clinical interventions, diagnostic tests, and healthcare management strategies related to respiratory conditions.

This includes asthmachronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), among others.

Respiratory care research illustration vector

Goals of Respiratory Care Research

  • Improve Diagnostic Methods: Developing more accurate, quicker, and less invasive methods for diagnosing respiratory diseases.
  • Advance Treatment Modalities: Studying the efficacy of different treatment methods, including pharmacological and non-pharmacological options, to optimize patient outcomes.
  • Enhance Patient Care: Researching best practices for the management of acute and chronic respiratory diseases, including ventilator management, oxygen therapy, and other supportive treatments.
  • Understand Disease Mechanisms: Investigating the cellular and molecular bases of respiratory diseases to identify potential targets for future treatments.
  • Evaluate Health Services: Studying the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of respiratory care services to inform healthcare policy and improve the quality of care.
  • Improve Quality of Life: Exploring ways to improve the functional status and quality of life for individuals with chronic respiratory conditions.
  • Innovate Technological Solutions: Researching and developing new tools, devices, and software to assist in respiratory care.
  • Explore Public Health Implications: Investigating the prevalence, risk factors, and public health strategies related to respiratory diseases on a population level.

Methods used in respiratory care research could be diverse and include randomized controlled trials, observational studies, systematic reviews and meta-analyses, qualitative research, and even laboratory-based experimental studies.

Research in this area can help inform clinical guidelines, healthcare policies, and educational programs, thereby ultimately improving patient outcomes and healthcare delivery systems.

Why is Medical Research Important?

Medical research is foundational to advancing healthcare, improving quality of life, and extending human lifespan.

Below are some key reasons why medical research is important:

  • Disease Understanding: Research helps to elucidate the biological, chemical, and physical mechanisms behind diseases. Understanding these mechanisms is the first step toward developing effective treatments.
  • Treatment Innovation: Scientific investigations lead to the development of new medications, therapies, and surgical techniques that can treat or cure diseases more effectively, often with fewer side effects.
  • Diagnostic Methods: Research contributes to the creation of more accurate, faster, and less invasive diagnostic tools. Early and precise diagnosis often means better disease outcomes.
  • Preventive Measures: Through research, scientists can identify risk factors and preventive measures for diseases, allowing for early interventions that can prevent or mitigate illness.
  • Public Health Strategies: Epidemiological studies and other types of research inform public health policies and guidelines, such as vaccination schedules, nutritional guidelines, and preventive screenings.
  • Healthcare System Optimization: Research into healthcare delivery methods can make healthcare more efficient, equitable, and cost-effective. This includes optimizing treatment protocols, healthcare resources, and patient management strategies.
  • Evidence-Based Practice: Clinical guidelines and treatments are increasingly based on empirical evidence rather than anecdotal experience, leading to more effective and standardized patient care.
  • Patient Safety: Medical research also includes studies on drug interactions, side effects, and adverse events, contributing to the overall safety of patients in medical care.
  • Personalized Medicine: Research is moving medicine toward more personalized treatments based on an individual’s genetics, lifestyle, and other factors, thus making treatment more effective for each person.
  • Global Challenges: Medical research has a global impact, addressing worldwide health crises such as pandemics, malnutrition, and the growing burden of chronic diseases.
  • Ethical and Social Considerations: Research also explores the ethical, social, and cultural dimensions of medicine, ensuring that advances in healthcare are aligned with societal values and norms.
  • Economic Benefits: The advancements in medical research often lead to new industries, job creation, and a boost to the economy.

Note: Medical research is the cornerstone for progress in healthcare, facilitating the continual improvement of diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive measures while enhancing the overall system within which these services are delivered.

Respiratory Care Research Practice Questions

1. What can be used to conduct literature reviews?
Books, online databases, portals, and electronic journals

2. What are the three basic missions of academic medicine?
Heal, teach, and discover

3. Who are the stakeholders in research?
Researchers, administrators, clinicians, and educators

4. Who needs the ability to assess the usefulness of new equipment and treatments?

5. Who needs the ability to find, summarize, and present evidence for clinical activities?

6. Who needs to evaluate the quality of services and the validity of policies and procedures?

7. Who needs to be able to generate new ideas that inform the other stakeholders?

8. What skill do most stakeholders have in common?
The ability to read and evaluate scientific reports

9. What do bibliographic databases contain?
They contain books, book chapters, reports, citations, abstracts, and either the full text of the articles indexed or links to the full text.

10. What is the most popular bibliographic database?

11. What is a synthesized database?
A set of computerized records or data that have been reviewed, interpreted, and categorized in relation to an area of research

12. What delivers only the most clinically reputable content intended for practicing medical clinicians?

13. What is a benefit of synthesized databases?
They assist in finding better evidence without as much research being needed through Bibliographic databases.

14. What is a webpage that acts as a starting point for using the web or web-based services?

15. What is a good research topic for beginning respiratory therapists, and why?
New devices because they are inexpensive and may be donated to increase research numbers; also, they do not require institutional review board approval

16. What are some examples of bibliographic software?
EndNote, RefWorks, and Zotero

17. What are some factors that affect feasibility?
Measurability, availability (research subjects), duration (how long is the study), significance (what is the importance), and knowledge (people conducting research)

18. What is a research protocol?
A detailed series of steps that lets the researcher know the order in which to administer the study and provides a script of what the researcher should say and do

19. What is the structure of a research article?
Abstract/summary, introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion/conclusion, and references

20. What is a condensed version of a research paper that appears at the beginning of a publication?
The abstract

21. How big is a poster?
In general, posters are 4 feet by 6 feet.

22. What is the typical word range of a research paper?
Research papers are usually in the range of 2,000-3,000 words, depending on the journal.

23. What are the parts of a scientific paper?
Introduction, methods, results, discussion, and conclusion.

24. What is a brief description of why the study was done, its importance, and the hypothesis?
The introduction

25. Which section explains what has been done to answer questions about the research or test the hypothesis?

26. What is the data gathered from experiments?
The results

27. What section should interpret the results from previous studies’ conclusions?
The discussion

28. What section should be briefly explained to include the reason why alternative interpretations would be rejected?
The conclusion

29. Research reviews are done by how many people?
They are usually done by 2 or 3 peer reviewers.

30. What is PubMed?
A computerized database operated by the National Libraries of Medicine that allows one to search many of the world’s science resources

31. What are the categories of research?
Quantitative and qualitative

32. What is quantitative research?
Data collected for numerical analysis

33. What is qualitative research?
Research that increases the understanding of “why”

34. What is descriptive research?
Research that observes and describes associations between exposures and outcomes.

35. What is analytic research?
Investigates relationships and tests hypotheses; it is also known as “explanatory” research

36. What are portals?
Web pages that users launch when they first log on to the web

37. What is found in the introduction of a scientific paper?
The research problem or hypothesis

38. What is found in the methods section?
Details about the experiment and how the hypothesis is tested

39. What is found in the results section of a scientific paper?
Data from the experiments

40. What is found in the discussion section of a scientific paper?
How the results answer the research problem

41. What is found in the conclusion of a scientific paper?
Reasons for rejecting alternate interpretations

42. What is the purpose of having a research plan?
To clarify the goals of the study and the methods for the investigation, and also to provide a guide for the entire research team

43. What is an example of a synthesized database?
Cochrane collaboration

44. What is the purpose of interviewing a patient?
To establish a rapport between the clinician and patient, to obtain information essential for making a diagnosis, and to help monitor changes in the patient’s symptoms and response to therapy

45. Where should a patient be interviewed?
In their personal space

46. What happens in the social space?
Your introduction to the patient; then you can proceed to their personal space

47. What is a bibliographic database?
A database that indexes publishing data for books, periodical articles, government reports, statistics, patents, research reports, conference proceedings, and dissertations

48. What is a hypothesis?
A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation

49. What are the three primary ways that research can be determined?
Abstracts, poster presentations, and papers in peer-reviewed medical journals

50. What is often considered to be the most rigorous type of study design to prove the efficacy of treatment?
The randomized controlled clinical trial

Final Thoughts

Respiratory care research is integral to advancing clinical practices and improving patient outcomes in pulmonary medicine.

By continuously exploring and validating new diagnostic tools, treatment protocols, and care strategies, the field can respond effectively to the evolving challenges of respiratory diseases.

Furthermore, interdisciplinary collaboration and the integration of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and telemedicine are essential for enhancing the efficiency and reach of respiratory care.

As we move forward, it is critical that researchers also focus on personalized approaches to treatment, ensuring that all patients receive care that is tailored to their unique needs.

With sustained investment and a commitment to evidence-based practice, respiratory care research will remain a cornerstone of progressive healthcare, significantly impacting the lives of individuals with respiratory conditions.

John Landry, BS, RRT

Written by:

John Landry, BS, RRT

John Landry is a registered respiratory therapist from Memphis, TN, and has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology. He enjoys using evidence-based research to help others breathe easier and live a healthier life.


  • Faarc, Kacmarek Robert PhD Rrt, et al. Egan’s Fundamentals of Respiratory Care. 12th ed., Mosby, 2020.
  • “Past, Present and Future of Respiratory Research: A Survey of Canadian Health Care Professionals.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 2015.
  • Chatburn, Robert. “Overview of Respiratory Care Research.” PubMed, Oct. 2004.

Recommended Reading