Qualitative Research

Living reference work entry
Part of the Health Services Research book series (HEALTHSR)


Qualitative methods were introduced into the world of health services research about three decades ago, and have begun to gain traction among researchers only in the last decade and a half. Despite the growing interest in what qualitative research can tell us about the human understanding of and experience of illness, skepticism remains among some scholars about the value-added of non-numeric research. Indeed, say some, if the findings from qualitative studies are not generalizable, can it really be called “research” at all? A philosophical debate about qualitative versus quantitative research, however, is not within the purview of this chapter. Rather, the pages that follow have a threefold objective: First, to set forth the epistemological assumptions of qualitative research, which are fundamentally different from their quantitative counterparts (and thus non-comparable); second, to provide the reader with a brief review of seminal works in qualitative health research and to discuss what factors have contributed to the growing interest in such approaches; and, lastly, to provide readers with some basic tools of qualitative data collection and analysis that can serve as templates for their own qualitative health studies. The overarching goal of the chapter is to argue that when conducted systematically by well-trained scholars, qualitative research has the potential to offer us valuable insights into the socio-cultural factors that underlie the interpretation of diseases, the illness experience, and the search for meaningful and effective treatments.


Threefold Objective Qualitative Health Researchers Invisible Illness In-depth Interviews (IDI) Intake Staff 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.WestatRockvilleUSA

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