Qualitative research and nursing

  • Michael Hardey


The scope of qualitative research is difficult to define, and it has acquired several labels such as field research, ethnography, interpretative studies, naturalistic research, case studies and so on. It also has acquired a ‘soft’ reputation in contrast to the ‘hard’ statistical approaches of other research methods. Part of this reputation stems from the apparent ease with which qualitative research reports can be read in contrast to the intimidating (for some) statistical basis of quantitative studies. It is also soft in that more than any other research methodology it is people-centred and frequently provides rich descriptions of an area of human behaviour. In this sense it has a characteristic in common with such people-oriented professions as nursing which claim to be ‘holistic’ in approach and patient/client-centred. A critique of quantitative research offered by some nurse researchers is the way it fragments the ‘whole’ person into ever smaller parts (Rogers, 1970). As Munhall (1982, p. 176) has noted qualitative research ‘may be more consistent with nursings’ stated philosophical beliefs in which subjectivity, shared experience, shared language, interrelatedness, human interpretation and reality as experienced, rather than contrived are considered’.


Qualitative Research Nursing Practice Participant Observation Quantitative Research Nurse Education 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

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  • Michael Hardey

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