Qualitative Health Research Presented at the College Maiden Seminar on Scientific Writing, 14th September 2011 Dr. A. Adindu Dept. of Public Health College of Medical Sciences University of Calabar. 1. Objectives At the end of this presentation we should be able to discuss:
Presented at the
College Maiden Seminar on Scientific Writing, 14th September 2011
Dr. A. Adindu
Dept. of Public Health
College of Medical Sciences
University of Calabar
Health researchers increasingly apply qualitative methods in studying social, cultural, and economic dimensions of health, ill health and service delivery.
However, health researchers in Nigeria tend to stay away from qualitative methods.
Understandingthe complex nature of human behaviour in health and illness requires different approaches in collecting data, analysing and reporting.
Qualitative health research is critical, and indeed indispensable in the process.
1. Natural science models founded on positivism, and application of mathematical methods support quantitative research.
2. Principles therein continue to influence social science research, and indeed health research.
3. Positivism presupposes that people, the objects of social sciences,are the same as chemicals and particles.
4. Positivists view as knowledge only phenomena observable by the senses or with instruments.
5. These, weaken the use of quantitative data in describing social reality.
6. Yet, positivists believe that methods and procedures of the natural sciences have universal application and appropriate for the social sciences and indeed, health sciences.
Tests Hypothesis Rigorous
Measures level of occurrence
Measures level of actions
Asks how many, how often
1. Study of health and illness behaviour excludes phenomena not observed directly.
2. Quantifying subjective feelings is difficult.
3. Numerical results strong in statistical evidence give no insight into health behaviours from which they emerged.
Why qualitative research?
Drawbacks in quantitative research, reaction to positivism led to the development of qualitative approach to study the social world, describe, and analyse the culture and behaviour of humans from their point of view.
What is qualitative research?
Qualitative research covers broad range of interpretive techniques, which seek to describe, decode, translate, and come to terms with the meaning and not the frequency of certain natural occurring phenomena in the social world (Maanen, 1985).
Subjective Allows for Discovery
Asks why, and gives insight into behaviour and action.
Interpretive paradigm covers broad philosophical and sociological thoughts which try to understand and explain the social world from view of those directly involved in the social process.
It seeks to understand the world as it is, and the fundamental nature of social world at the level of subjective experience (Burrell and Morgan, 1994).
Interpretive scientists strive to understand the essence and source of social reality by penetrating the depth of human consciousness to understand the fundamental meanings of social life.
Immanuel Kant (1724–1803) gave interpretive paradigm initial foundation.
Recent theorists Husserl, Schutz, Weber and Dilthey established interpretive perspective as framework for social analysis. The main paradigms that give QR distinct epistemology include:
Symbolic interaction, Ethnogenetics,
From these sociological and philosophical ideas, naturalistic approach draws strength, emerging as alternative view of the proper nature of social research, and indeed health research.
Case study is a common qualitative method that studies a phenomenon in its real life situation.
This has many names: participatory research, collaborative, practitioner research, action learning, and contextual research among others.
Collecting data for understanding human realities and depth of health behaviour requires the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods in data collection, analysis and report.
This is termed triangulation. Quantitative methods alone depth data and paints only partial picture of reality.
For further reading on my presentation, please see:
Adindu, A. (2011) Qualitative Health Research. Clear Lines Press, Calabar.