2. Presentation Outline
WHAT IS RESEARCH / HEALTH RESEARCH
Designing a qualitative study design
Comparison with the quantitative research
Weaknesses of qualitative research and
3. Research/ health research
. It is the systematic collection, analysis and interpretation of data
to generate new knowledge and answer a certain question or solve
Characteristics of research
It demands a clear statement of the problem
It requires a plan (it is not aimlessly “ looking” for something in
the hope that you will come across a solution)
New data should be collected as required and be organized in
such a way that they answer the research question(s)
Health research is the application of principles of research on health.
It is the generation of new knowledge using scientific method to
identify and deal with health problems.
4. Quantitative and Qualitative
Early forms of research originated in the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry,
physics, geology etc. and was concerned with investigating things which we could observe
and measure in some way. Such observations and measurements can be made objectively
and repeated by other researchers. This process is referred to as
Much later, along came researchers working in the social sciences: psychology, sociology,
anthropology etc. They were interested in studying human behavior and the social world
inhabited by human beings. They found increasing difficulty in trying to explain human
behavior in simply measurable terms. Measurements tell us how often or how many
people behave in a certain way but they do not adequately answer the “why” and
Research which attempts to increase our understanding of why things are the way they are in
our social world and why people act the ways they do is
5. Qualitative research is concerned with developing explanations of social
That is to say, it aims to help us to understand the world in which we live
and why things are the way they are. It is concerned with the social
aspects of our world and seeks to answer questions
• Why people behave the way they do?
• How opinions and attitudes are formed?
• How people are affected by the events that go on around them?
• How and why cultures have developed in the way they have?
Qualitative research is concerned with finding the answers to questions
which begin with:
why? How? In what way?
Quantitative research, on the other hand, is more concerned with
questions about: how much? How many? How often? To what extent? etc.
THE MYSTERY OF WHY AND HOW ?
6. ‘Qualitative Research…involves finding out
what people think, and how they feel - or at
any rate, what they say they think and how
they say they feel. This kind of information is
subjective. It involves feelings and
impressions, rather than numbers’
Bellenger, Bernhardt and Goldstucker, Qualitative Research in
Marketing, American Marketing Association
7. Qualitative Research
A form of social inquiry that focuses on the way people interpret and make
sense of their experiences and the world in which they live
Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human
behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior.
Qualitative Researchers study “things” (people and their thoughts) in their
natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or interpret, phenomena in terms
of the meanings people bring to them.
The qualitative method investigates the why and how of decision
making, not just what, where, when.
8. The Qualitative Perspective
“I want to understand the world from your point of
view. I want to know what you know in the way
you know it. I want to understand the meaning
of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel
things as you feel them, to explain things as you
explain them. Will you become my teacher and
help me understand?”
James P. Spradley (1979)
9. Bryon 1998 also mentioned the following:
major characteristic of qualitative
research is that it enables a
researcher to understand the social
the meanings attributed to them by
participants in the social setting or
context in which they occur.
According to Mattered 2001,
The aim of qualitative
research is to identify the
meaning of a social
phenomenon the way the
participants experience it
and also perceive it
10. Qualitative research
Any research that doesn’t involve numerical data
Instead uses words, pictures, photos, videos, audio recordings. Field notes.
Peoples’ own words.
Seeks to describe how individuals perceive their own experiences within a
Emphasizes in-depth understanding of human experience and interactions
Methods include in-depth interviews, direct observations, examining documents,
Data are often participants’ own words and narrative summaries of observed
Tends to start with a broad question rather than a specific hypothesis
Develop theory rather than start with one
inductive rather than deductive
12. Quantitative Qualitative
All aspects of the study are carefully
designed before data is collected.
The design emerges as the study unfolds
Researcher uses tools (questionnaires or
equipment) to collect data.
Researcher is the data gathering
Data is in the form of numbers and
Data is in the form of words
(interviews), pictures (videos), or
Quantitative data is more efficient, able
to test hypotheses.
Qualitative data is, time consuming, and
less able to be generalized.
•Investigation aims to assess a pre-stated
theory (Deductive Reasoning)
Quantitative data infers statistics
Data collection therefore requires
Investigation aims to create a novel
theory (Inductive Reasoning)
Qualitative data infers complex
statements or opinions
Data collection therefore permits ‘open’
Quality of informant more important
than sample size
Theory testing (experimental)
Sample size core issue in reliability of
Sampling: Random (simple, stratified,
cluster, etc) or purposive
15. Qualitative methods fill a gap
in the public health toolbox
•Public health problems are complex, not only because of their
multifactorial nature but also as a result of new and emerging domestic and
international health problems.
• Social, economic, political, ethnic, environmental, and genetic factors all
are associated with today’s public health concerns.
Consequently, public health practitioners and researchers recognize the
need for multiple approaches to understanding problems and developing
effective interventions that address contemporary public health issues.
• Qualitative methods fill a gap in the public health toolbox; they help us
understand behaviors, attitudes, perceptions, and culture in a way that
quantitative methods alone cannot.
For all these reasons, qualitative methods are getting renewed attention
and gaining new respect in public health
16. Uses of Qualitative Research
in Public Health
Obtain data that are useful on their
Detailed, contextually-based data associated with
attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors
What, how, and why people conceptualize issues
differently in different contextual circumstances
Generate new avenues for study
A researcher wants to understand how provision
of healthcare to undocumented persons affects
the people and institutions involved
In 3 communities, information is gathered from
undocumented patients, primary care clinicians,
specialists, and hospital administrators
Methods: in-depth interviews, key informant
interviews, participant observations, case studies,
18. EXAMPLE OF QUALITATIVE DATA RESEARCH*
Describing and comparing two
types of audio guides: person-
led and technology-led
Geolocated audio to enable
public, informal learning of
Data sources: questionnaires,
researcher observations, and
small focus groups
* Taken from: FitzGerald, Elizabeth; Taylor, Claire and Craven, Michael (2013). To the Castle! A
comparison of two audio guides to enable public discovery of historical events. Personal and
Ubiquitous Computing, 17(4) pp. 749–760. http://oro.open.ac.uk/35077/
19. Qualitative Study questions
Research questions that are too broad:
Does Buddhism account for the patience that seems to dominate the
Thai world view?
How do leaders make their decisions?
Research questions better answered
by quicker means:
What television programs do Brazilians watch most?
Where can you buy postage stamps in
20. Qualitative Questions
examples of Qualitative Questions
What do people in this setting have to know in order to do
what they are doing?
What is the story that can be told from these experiences?
What are the underlying themes and contexts that account
for the experience?
What are the emotional experiences of public middle school children who
change schools mid-year?
How do Portuguese older adults conceptualize the diabetic diet?
In what ways do culture and religion play a role in Hmong adults’ views of
How do political ads on television influence adults’ perceptions of health
22. Biographical Study
The study of an individual and her or his
experiences as told to the researcher or found in
documents and archival material.
23. Grounded Theory
Grounded theory refers to an inductive process of
generating theory from data.
This is considered ground-up or bottom-up processing.
The intent of grounded theory is to generate or discover a
theory that relates to a particular situation. If little is known
about a topic, grounded theory is especially useful
Ethnography emphasizes the observation of details of everyday life as
they naturally unfold in the real world. This is sometimes called
Studying social life in its natural setting
Ethnography is a method of describing a culture or society. This is
primarily used in anthropological research.
Involves prolonged observation of the group, typically through
The researcher examines the group’s observable and learned patterns
of behavior, customs, and ways of life.
Many ethnographies may be written in a narrative or story telling
Phenomenology is a school of thought that emphasizes a focus
on people’s subjective experiences and interpretations of the
Describes the meaning of the lived experience about a concept
or a phenomenon for several individuals.
Phenomenological theorists argue that objectivity is virtually
impossible to ascertain, so to compensate, one must view all
research from the perspective of the researcher.
Phenomenologists attempt to understand those whom they
observe from the subjects’ perspective.
This outlook is especially pertinent in social work and research
where empathy and perspective become the keys to success.
26. Case Studies
The case study is important in qualitative research, especially in areas where
exceptions are being studied.
Example: A patient may have a rare form of cancer that has a set of symptoms
and potential treatments that have never before been researched.
Data collection strategies include direct observation,
interviews, documents, archival records, participant
observation, physical artifacts and audiovisual
Analysis of themes, or issues and an interpretation of
the case by the researcher.
27. Designing a Qualitative Study
Problem Statement or Statement of Need for the
No hypothesis; Research questions which you
want to answer instead.
Opinions differ about the extent of literature
needed before a study begins.
Need to identify the gaps in knowledge about the
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28. Qualitative Data Collection
Rather than developing an instrument to use, the qualitative
researcher is the instrument.
Interviews (structured, semi-structured or unstructured)
Questionnaires or surveys
observations – may also be recorded (video/audio)
29. 1. Interviews
Open-ended questions and probes yield in-depth responses about people’s
experiences, opinions, perceptions, feelings and knowledge.
Unstructured This method allows the researcher to ask open-ended questions
during an interview.
Details are more important here than a specific interview procedure.
Here lies the inductive framework through which theory can be generated.
e.g. ethnographic interviewing – researcher allows interview to proceed at
respondent’s pace and subjects to vary by interviewee (to an extent)
Semi-structured – researcher uses an interview guide
Structured – researcher adheres to interview schedule
Use words that make sense to the people
Ask truly open-ended questions
Avoid questions which can be answered with
a yes or no.
One idea per question.
Be careful with Why questions.
31. 2. Observations
Fieldwork descriptions of activities, behaviors, actions, conversations,
interpersonal interactions, organizational or community processes, or any
other aspect of observable human experience.
The researcher literally
becomes part of the
Example: One studying the
homeless may decide to walk
the streets of a given area in
an attempt to gain perspective
and possibly subjects for future
is where the researcher observes the
actual behaviors of the subjects, instead
of relying on what the subjects say about
themselves or others say about them.
Example: The observation booth may be
used for direct observation of behavior
where survey or other empirical
methodologies may seem inappropriate.
Learn to pay attention, see what there is to see, and hear what
there is to hear.
Practice writing descriptively
Acquiring discipline in recording field notes
Knowing how to separate detail from trivia to achieve the
former without being overwhelmed by the latter.
“In the fields of observation, chance favors the prepared
mind.” Louis Pasteur
“People only see what they are prepared to see.” Ralph
33. 3. Documents
Written materials and other documents,
programs records; memoranda and
correspondence; official publications and reports;
personal diaries, letters, artistic works,
photographs, and memorabilia; and written
responses to open-ended surveys.
Data consists of excerpts from documents
captured in a way that records and preserves
34. Focus Groups
Recruited to discuss particular topic
One focus group is ONE unit of analysis
Ideal size: 6 – 12 people and a moderator/note taker
Running a focus group – fine line between leading too much and not getting people
Important to keep discussion on topic w/o shutting people down
No right or wrong answers
Establishing the Group
Paying your subjects
Finding a place
Need at least two research team members; facilitation and note-taking
Purpose: RICH DATA not generalizability
35. Qualitative Sampling Strategies
Purposeful or Judgment Sampling
“In judgment sampling, you decide the purpose you want informants
(or communities) to serve, and you go out to find some” Bernard,
“Key Informants” are people who are particularly knowledgeable
about the inquiry setting
May select individuals typical in relation to the phenomenon under
May seek out individuals different in some way from other participants
to get diverse perspectives
Snowballing technique is commonly used.
36. WHAT QUALIATIVE
RESEARCHERS WORRY ABOUT
Have I coded my data correctly?
Have I managed to capture the situation in a
Have I described the context in sufficient detail?
Have I managed to see the world through the
eyes of my participants?
Is my approach flexible and able to change?
37. Qualitative Study Weaknesses
• Knowledge produced might not generalize to other people or other
• It is difficult to make quantitative predictions
•Takes more time to collect and analyze the data when compared to
• The results are more easily influenced by the researcher’s personal
•it can’t always give you definite answers in the way that quantitative
•it can be easier to carry out (or hide) ‘bad’ (poor quality) qualitative
research than ‘bad’ quantitative research
•Limitations of the observer
38. Check Your Understanding:
Which of the following is true about
A.Categories are established for analysis
B.Data are usually collected in a laboratory
C.Focus is on studying the “whole.”
D.Intuition and abstraction are
40. Check Your Understanding:
Data for qualitative studies are:
A. Based on words rather than numbers.
B. Easy and straightforward to interpret.
C. Gathered quickly from large numbers
D. Precisely analyzed on a computer.
41. Check Your Understanding:
In each approach to qualitative
research, the purpose is to examine
meaning, and the unit of analysis is a
word or phrase instead of a numerical