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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 45

Exploring the utility of qualitative research in the health sector

Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication7-Aug-2014

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh R Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Ammapettai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2148-7731.138315

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Exploring the utility of qualitative research in the health sector. Sifa Med J 2014;1:45

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Exploring the utility of qualitative research in the health sector. Sifa Med J [serial online] 2014 [cited 2024 Feb 24];1:45. Available from: https://www.imjsu.org/text.asp?2014/1/3/45/138315


Research in the field of medicine and public health has resulted in significant achievements and major reforms in the health sector and in the experience of health and illness in the last century. [1] Broadly, research has been categorized into two major categories namely quantitative and qualitative research. [2] Qualitative research tends to explore the motivations/reasons, employs semi-structured methods, and thus provides an in-depth understanding of the issue. [1] It is a form of social enquiry that focuses on the way people interpret and perceive their experiences (viz. individual-centered perspective) and the world in which they live. [2]

It not only provides valuable information to research questions but also often used to discern the findings of quantitative research or to complement quantitative research methods. [1] The tool of qualitative research has been utilized in different health-related settings such as infection prevention, the formulation of policies, medical curriculum, clinical practice, and in naïve areas that have never been explored. [3],[4],[5] It has been emphasized that the success of qualitative methods significantly relies on the ability of the researcher to be a patient listener. [1],[3] In most of the qualitative approaches, researcher focuses on the everyday life of people in natural settings and has to be sensitive to the situation; the theoretical framework is not predetermined but derives from the data; focuses on the views of the people involved in the research and their perceptions, meanings, and interpretations; data collection and analysis generally proceed together; uses open-ended methods; and involves respondents as active participants rather than subjects. [1],[3]

Different methods have been utilized for collection of data, namely participant observation (viz., especially in locations with some relevance to the research questions); in-depth interviews (viz., to elicit a clear and detailed picture of the participant's perspective by engaging them in a one-to-one conversation, pertaining to the research area); key informant interviews (viz., it is the in-depth interviews of selected 10 to 20 key individuals to elicit their knowledge so that obtained information can be utilized in planning cycle, implementation of measures in the settings, and finally evaluation of the implemented measures); and focus group discussions (viz., is extremely helpful in socio-behavioral research to understand the social norms/cultural practices of a community, and can eventually modify the opinion of the entire group). [1],[2],[6],[7]

To conclude, the approach of qualitative research can be employed in heterogeneous health settings with an aim to comprehensively assess the human behavior and the reasons that govern such behavior.

  References Top

1.Hunt E, Lavoie AM. Quantitative and qualitative research methods, can they coexist yet? Rech Soins Infirm 2011:25-30.  Back to cited text no. 1
2.Mistry KB. Research and statistics: Qualitative research methods. Pediatr Rev 2012;33:521-3.   Back to cited text no. 2
3.Beery TA. Essentials on qualitative research methods: Clinical considerations for allied professionals. Heart Rhythm 2010;7:572-4.   Back to cited text no. 3
4.Forman J, Creswell JW, Damschroder L, Kowalski CP, Krein SL. Qualitative research methods: Key features and insights gained from use in infection prevention research. Am J Infect Control 2008;36:764-71.  Back to cited text no. 4
5.Hanson JL, Balmer DF, Giardino AP. Qualitative research methods for medical educators. Acad Pediatr 2011;11:375-86.   Back to cited text no. 5
6.Ivey J. The value of qualitative research methods. Pediatr Nurs 2012;38:319.  Back to cited text no. 6
7.Scheffner Hammer C. Expanding our knowledge base through qualitative research methods. Am J Speech Lang Pathol 2011;20:161-2.  Back to cited text no. 7


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