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Quantitative and Qualitative Research Mohamed EL-AWADY Professor of community medicine Ain Shams University PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Quantitative and Qualitative Research Mohamed EL-AWADY Professor of community medicine Ain Shams University. Lecture outlines. Objectives of quantitative research Main features in quantitative and qualitative research Data collection

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Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Mohamed EL-AWADY

Professor of community medicine

Ain Shams University

Lecture outlines

  • Objectives of quantitative research

  • Main features in quantitative and qualitative research

  • Data collection

  • Limitations in quantitative and qualitative research

  • Concept of using combined research

What is research?

It is a scientific way of answering questions and testing hypothesis.

The following terms are used interchangeably; research, approach and tradition.

What is meant by approach?

It is the whole design including; assumptions, the process of inquiry, the type of data collected and the measuring of findings.

The quantitative approach views human phenomena as being amenable to objective study i.e. able to be measured. It has its roots in positivism

Quantitative research is similar to traditional scientific methods

  • Stating in advance the hypothesis and research question.

  • Determine the methods of data collection and analysis.

  • The findings are presented in statistical language.

Quantitative research is similar to traditional scientific methods (cont.)

  • Quantitative approach to research involves data collection methods such as structured questionnaire, interviews and observations together with other tools.

  • On the other hand, in depth interviews and unstructured observations are associated with qualitative research.

  • Researches have to choose methods which are appropriate for answering their questions.

Quantitative research features

  • Henwood and Pidgeon 1993, stated that quantitative research deals with quantities and numbers while qualitative research deals with quality and description which is too simple and unhelpful.

  • The purpose of quantitative research is to measure concepts or variables that are predetermined objectively and to examine the relationship between them numerically and statistically.

Measurement in Quantitative Research

The following criteria should be fulfilled:

  • Validity

  • Objectivity (reliability)

  • Accuracy

  • Precision

Objective Measurement in Quantitative Research

  • Objectivity means that the researchers stands outside the phenomena they study. Data collected are free from bias.

  • Objectivity is ensured by many ways e.g. structured questions, representative sampling and randomization.

Objective Measurement in Quantitative Research (cont.)

  • Sometimes, researchers may study concepts e.g. pain, attitudes and fatigue. In such cases, scales are constructed e.g. self-esteem scale as subjective measures are crude and not accurate.

  • Objective measures are more valid and reliable than subjective measures, the later depend on self reports.

Types of Quantitative Data

  • Data are used to classify groups.

  • Examples; numbers, amounts, prevalence, incidence.

  • Variables can be classified as physical (wt.& Ht.), physiological (attitude, anxiety), social……etc.

Quantitative research features (cont.)

  • Quantitative research studies the relationship between concepts and variables e.g. the relation between social support and quality of life.

  • Randomized control trials rely on quantitative measure to determine if the interventions have the desired effects. Although qualitative methods may be used to explore some issues related to intervention.

Quantitative research features (cont.)

  • It is clear that quantitative research can provide data to describe the distribution of a characteristic or attributes in population, explore the relationships between them and determine cause and effect relationship.

Quantitative Research Example

  • An evaluation of a teaching intervention to improve the practice of endotracheal suctioning in I.C.U.

  • This study measures concepts (Know.& Pract.), relation between them and tests the effectiveness of K.&P. in I.C.U.

    Data collection was structured and standardized. K. is measured questionnaire and P. by “structured observation schedule”

    Data are analyzed by statistical tests.

Quantitative approach as deductive

  • An approach which tests the researchers’ hypothesis in quantitative studies are termed deductive.

    As such approach tests whether variables are correlated or one affects another e.g. nutritional status and pressure ulcers, or factors related to tobacco use.

    Some quantitative studies are inductive as they lead to formation of new questions ( generate new hypothesis )

Quantitative research Main feature

  • Quantitative research is described as producing generalisable findings through randomization and representative sampling.

    However, the study is no less quantitative if a random representative sample is not used.

Data Collection in Quantitative Research

  • Questionnaire

  • Observation schedules

  • Scales to measure KAP

  • Instruments to measure physiological and biomedical indicators

  • All the above methods should be pre-determined, structured and standardized.

Value of Quantitative Research to Nursing

  • Help nurses to grasp the reality as measurement is central to every thing that nurses do; symptoms, relief, improvement in patients i.e. physical, physiological and psychosocial phenomena.

  • Provide data for many questions that arise during practice.

  • Useful in identifying trends.

Value of Quantitative Research to Nursing ( cont. )

  • Needs assessment of patients and nurses.

  • Evaluations of interventions.

  • Measuring the competence and skills.

  • Useful for providing decision makers with required information.

Limitations of Quantitative Approach

  • It is difficult to understand human phenomena e.g. when studying human behavior, it is possible only to study what is observable. So the phenomena is revealed partially.

  • Some researches claim that many influences affect people’s response to questions i.e. it is not purely objective.

  • Some standardized scales may be interpreted differently by participants.

Qualitative Research

Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.

( Albert Einstein )

What is qualitative research?

  • To care for people and promote change in behavior, it is required to understand in-depth concepts such as experience, believes, motivations and intentions.

    So, listening and observing may give more information than sending questions.

What is qualitative research? (cont.)

  • Qualitative research is an approach which seeks to understand , by means of exploration, human experience, perceptions, motivations, intentions and behavior.

  • It is interactive, inductive, flexible, holistic and reflexive method of data collection and analysis.

Main features of Qualitative Research

1- Exploration

2- Inductive approach

3- Interactive and Reflective

4- Holistic

5- Flexible

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

1-Exploration is the essential feature of qualitative approach in order to understand the perceptions and actions of participants.

Exploration is to discover new people, customs, and to learn from them.

Exploration is a difficult task that requires training and experience.

It should be inductive, interactive, reflexive and holistic.

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

2- Inductive approach:

The purpose of qualitative approach is to develop concepts and generates hypothesis. The researcher is open to ideas which emerge from listening or observing people.

The inductive approach is useful when little is known about the topics one wants to study.

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

3- Interactive and Reflexive process

To avoid bias in quantitative approach, the researchers try to study phenomena in a detached way.

In qualitative studies, researchers use interaction between them and participants to get closer to the topic under study. The researcher becomes an instrument of data collection. The researchers probe, facilitate, and note tone, hesitations and repetition in participants responses.

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

3- Interactive and Reflexive process (cont.)

There should be trust between participants and researchers.

The qualitative research should be reflexive i.e. examining not only what people say and do, but also why they say and do so.

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

4- Holistic exploration

In quantitative research, the researcher is constrained by a number of variables to be studied.

In qualitative research, participants are allowed to put their responses in context.

Main features of Qualitative Research( cont. )

5- Flexible methods

Qualitative research relies on personal, intimate and private world of participants. So flexible, imaginative, creative and varied strategies are used to facilitate this process.

Data collection methods include; interviews, observations, group discussion, analysis of video recording, letters, diaries and other documents.

In quantitative research, data collection methods are constructed in advance.

Common approaches in qualitative research

1- Ethnograghy

2- Phenomenology

3- Discourse analysis

4- Grounded theory

Common approaches in qualitative research

1- Ethnography:is an approach relying on the collection of data in the natural environment. Ethnographers are interested in how the behavior of individuals is influenced or mediated by culture in which they live.

So, human behavior can only be understood if studied in the setting in which it occurs. As people can influence and be influenced by the groups they live in.

Common approaches in qualitative research

2- Phenomenology: It focuses on individuals' interpretation of their experience and the ways in which they express them.

The researchers task is to describe phenomena as experienced and expressed by individuals.

Common approaches in qualitative research

3- Discourse analysis:Discourse is a term used to describe the systems we use in communication with others. These include verbal, non-verbal and written material.

What we say, how we say it, our choice of words, tone, timing are full of values, meanings and intentions.

So, analysis of discourse increases our understanding of human behavior through language and interaction.

Common approaches in qualitative research

4- Grounded theory:It is an inductive approach to research whereby hypotheses and theories emerge out or are grounded in data.

Common approaches in qualitative research (conclusion)

  • The above 4 approaches are similar in that they place emphasis on interpretation rather than objective empirical observations. They are interactive.

  • They are different in that; ethnography focuses on culture, phenomenology on consciousness, discourse analysis on language and ground theory’s aim is the development of theory through induction.

Qualitative Research in Nursing and health Research

1- explore patients’ experience and behavior.

2- explore the experience and behavior of nurses and other health professionals.

3- evaluate intervention and services.

4- explore core concepts relevant to nursing and health.

Limitations of Qualitative Research

1- It is anecdotal (stories told for dramatic quality without critical evaluation)

2- Unscientific

3- Producing findings that are not generalisable

4- Impressionistic

5- Subjective

Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

Humans are both rational calculating beings…and they also operate on a deeper level of feelings, drivers and irrationality.

H. Mariampolski

Combining Quantitative and Qualitative Methods

  • An old debate between quantitative and qualitative methods can be traced back to the two opposed Greek philosophical visions of human science that emphasize number (Pythagoras) and meaning (Socrates) as the essence of mind.

  • Qualitative research has been described as; noble, good and empowering by some researchers.

    By others it is; story telling, touchy – feely, biased, subjective, lacking reliability validity and generalisabilty.

Types and purposes of combining methods

1- To develop and enhance the validity of scales, questionnaire and tools.

2- To develop, implement and evaluate interventions.

3- To further explore or test the findings of one method.

4- To study different aspects of the same topics.

5- To explore complex phenomena from different perspectives.

6- To confirm or cross-validate data.

It is better to view quantitative and qualitative researches not as dichotomous but as various tools.


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