P.Mean >> Category >> Qualitative data analysis (created 2007-06-20).

These pages discuss some of the conceptual and logistical issues associated with the analysis of interviews, focus group data, and other sources of non-quantitative data. Also see Category: Descriptive statistics. Other entries about qualitative data analysis can be found in the qualitative data analysis page at the StATS website.


5. P.Mean: Justifying the sample size in a qualitative research study (created 2011-11-22). I was asked to help justify the sample size for a qualitative research study. When the goals of a study are qualitative, the sample size justification is also qualitative.

Other resources:


Anthropology in health research: from qualitative methods to multidisciplinarity. Lambert H, McKevitt C. BMJ 2002: 325(7357); 210-213. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Ethnography and health care. Savage J. Bmj 2000: 321(7273); 1400-2. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Talking with Strangers: a Researcher's Tale. Simonds W. The Chronicle of Higher Education 2001; B14-B15.

Journal article: N. Britten. Qualitative Research: Qualitative interviews in medical research BMJ. 1995;311:251-253. Abstract: "Much qualitative research is interview based, and this paper provides an outline of qualitative interview techniques and their application in medical settings. It explains the rationale for these techniques and shows how they can be used to research kinds of questions that are different from those dealt with by quantitative methods. Different types of qualitative interviews are described, and the way in which they differ from clinical consultations is emphasised. Practical guidance for conducting such interviews is given." [Accessed on November 22, 2011]. Available at: http://www.bmj.com/content/311/6999/251

Illustrative examples.

Implementing evidence based medicine in general practice: audit and qualitative study of antithrombotic treatment for atrial fibrillation. Howitt A, Armstrong D. British Medical Journal 1999: 318(7194); 1324-1327. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]. This article is cited in Category: Qualitative data. Description: This article is an illustrative example of a qualitative research study

Dave Holmes, Amélie Perron, Gabrielle Michaud. Nursing in corrections: lessons from France. J Forensic Nurs. 2007;3(3-4):126-131. Abstract: "This article presents the results of a qualitative study (grounded theory) comparing nursing practice in corrections in both France and Canada. In Canada, nurses work as both agents of care and agents of social control. In contrast, French legislation has separated the responsibilities of health care and corrections. The effects of this split are illustrated, and the French model examine for important perspectives for restructuring nursing services in Canada." [Accessed October 26, 2010]. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18027532.

Qualitative study of decisions about infant feeding among women in east end of London. Hoddinott P, Pill R. British Medical Journal 1999: 318(7175); 30-4. [Medline] [Abstract] [Full text] [PDF]. This article is cited in Category: Qualitative data. Description: This article is an illustrative example of a qualitative research study.


User-Friendly Handbook for Mixed Method Evaluations. Frechtling J, Sharp L. Accessed on 2004-04-13. www.ehr.nsf.gov/EHR/REC/pubs/NSF97-153/START.HTM

Focus Groups Second Edition: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. Krueger RA (1994) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Analyzing & Reporting Focus Group Results. Krueger RA (1998) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Journal article: Alexandra Sbaraini, Stacy M Carter, Robin W Evans, Anthony Blinkhorn. How to do a grounded theory study: a worked example of a study of dental practices. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 2011;11(1):128. Abstract: "BACKGROUND: Qualitative methodologies are increasingly popular in medical research. Grounded theory is the methodology most-often cited by authors of qualitative studies in medicine, but it has been suggested that many 'grounded theory' studies are not concordant with the methodology. In this paper we provide a worked example of a grounded theory project. Our aim is to provide a model for practice, to connect medical researchers with a useful methodology, and to increase the quality of 'grounded theory' research published in the medical literature. METHODS: We documented a worked example of using grounded theory methodology in practice. RESULTS: We describe our sampling, data collection, data analysis and interpretation. We explain how these steps were consistent with grounded theory methodology, and show how they related to one another. Grounded theory methodology assisted us to develop a detailed model of the process of adapting preventive protocols into dental practice, and to analyse variation in this process in different dental practices. CONCLUSIONS: By employing grounded theory methodology rigorously, medical researchers can better design and justify their methods, and produce high-quality findings that will be more useful to patients, professionals and the research community." [Accessed on September 20, 2011]. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/11/128/abstract.

Some Forms of Qualitative Research: Their Advantages and Disadvantages for CAM Research. Parliament HoLUK. Accessed on 2004-04-13. www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/ld199900/ldselect/ldsctech/123/12315.htm#a70

Research Perspective on Focus Groups. Resources TRoPE. Accessed on 2004-04-13. www.unt.edu/cpe/module4/blk2focus1.htm

Qualitative Inquiry: A Dictionary of Terms. Schwandt TA (1997) Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

A Software Sourcebook Computer Programs for Qualitative Data Analysis. Weitzman EA, Miles MB (1995) Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

Critical review

Qualitative research in systematic reviews has established a place for itself. Dixon-Woods M, Fitzpatrick R. British Medical Journal 2001: 323(7316); 765-6. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research and evidence based medicine. Green J, Britten N. British Medical Journal 1998: 316(7139); 1230-2. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Assessing quality in qualitative research. Mays N, Pope C. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7226); 50-52. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Using qualitative methods in health related action research. Meyer J. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7228); 178-181. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]

Qualitative research in health care: Analysing qualitative data. Pope C, Ziebland S, Mays N. British Medical Journal 2000: 320(7227); 114-116. [Medline] [Full text] [PDF]


Research Perspective on Focus Groups. Texas Registry of Parent Educator Resources. Accessed on 2002-10-23. No description available. www.unt.edu/cpe/module4/blk2focus1.htm

Alicia O'Cathain, Jon Nicholl, Elizabeth Murphy. Structural issues affecting mixed methods studies in health research: a qualitative study. BMC Medical Research Methodology. 2009;9(1):82. Abstract: "BACKGROUND: Health researchers undertake studies which combine qualitative and quantitative methods. Little attention has been paid to the structural issues affecting this mixed methods approach. We explored the facilitators and barriers to undertaking mixed methods studies in health research. METHODS: Face-to-face semi-structured interviews with 20 researchers experienced in mixed methods research in health in the United Kingdom. RESULTS: Structural facilitators for undertaking mixed methods studies included a perception that funding bodies promoted this approach, and the multidisciplinary constituency of some university departments. Structural barriers to exploiting the potential of these studies included a lack of education and training in mixed methods research, and a lack of templates for reporting mixed methods articles in peer-reviewed journals. The 'hierarchy of evidence' relating to effectiveness studies in health care research, with the randomised controlled trial as the gold standard, appeared to pervade the health research infrastructure. Thus integration of data and findings from qualitative and quantitative components of mixed methods studies, and dissemination of integrated outputs, tended to occur through serendipity and effort, further highlighting the presence of structural constraints. Researchers are agents who may also support current structures - journal reviewers and editors, and directors of postgraduate training courses - and thus have the ability to improve the structural support for exploiting the potential of mixed methods research. CONCLUSIONS: The environment for health research in the UK appears to be conducive to mixed methods research but not to exploiting the potential of this approach. Structural change, as well as change in researcher behaviour, will be necessary if researchers are to fully exploit the potential of using mixed methods research." [Accessed December 15, 2009]. Available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2288/9/82.

Creative Commons License All of the material above this paragraph is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License. This page was written by Steve Simon and was last modified on 2017-06-15. The material below this paragraph links to my old website, StATS. Although I wrote all of the material listed below, my ex-employer, Children's Mercy Hospital, has claimed copyright ownership of this material. The brief excerpts shown here are included under the fair use provisions of U.S. Copyright laws.


4. Stats: Reviewing a paper on qualitative data analysis (March 11, 2007). I was asked by BMJ to review a paper that involved a qualitative data analysis. These reviews are confidential, so I don't want to describe the paper in any detail. It is worthwhile, however, to note some of the standards that others have suggested for assessing the quality of a qualitative data analysis. This is important for a peer-reviewer like myself. I need to be able to assess whether the authors have produced a result that is sufficiently rigorous to merit publication.

3. Stats: Using focus groups to bridge the gap between research and practice (December 14, 2006). The Injury Prevention journal published a nice article on how to use focus groups to bridge the research-practice gap, ip.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/12/6/373, along with an associated commentary, ip.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/12/6/357. This is a very nice article with the full free text available on the web. It has an excellent bibliography and many of the references also have full free text on the web. The authors followed a series of steps that they argue can be readily generalized to other safety issues.

2. Stats: Planning a qualitative research study (July 6, 2004). Someone asked me for some specific advice on how to design a qualitative study. I love qualitative research. I think people should be using this mode of research more often. But I have to admit that I have little first hand experience in this area. I can make some general comments but no specific recommendations.

1. Stats: Focus groups and qualitative research (April 13, 2004). A student is giving a talk on focus groups and asked me a few questions about my attitude towards them. I think focus groups are great. They give you a richer picture of the data and can often supplement quantitative studies.

What now?

Browse other categories at this site

Browse through the most recent entries

Get help