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Qualitative research methods

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Title: Qualitative research methods


1
Qualitative research methods
  • Epi 611
  • November 2006

2
Objectives
  • To define and distinguish qualitative (from
    quantitative) methods
  • To provide examples of the use of qualitative
    data in epidemiological research
  • To understand the unique contribution of
    qualitative data
  • To introduce methods for collecting and analyzing
    qualitative data
  • To understand some of the complexities in using
    qualitative data

3
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • More than methods, a new paradigm in social
    research
  • The more precisely the position is determined,
    the less precisely the momentum is known in this
    instant, and vice versa. (Heisenberg, 1927)
  • What we observe is not Nature itself, but
    Nature exposed to our method of questioning
    (Heisenberg, 1958)
  • " O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
    How can we know the dancer from the dance ?
    (W.B. Yeats, 1928)

4
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Origins in the  Chicago School  in the
    1920s-30s
  • Rejection of the positivist paradigm and the
    notion of an objective observer and an
    unequivocal underlying truth
  • Attempting to represent reality as it is seen
    from different perspectives

5
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Antirealist position
  • Rejection of the idea of an unequivocal
    underlying truth
  • Vs
  • Subtle realism position
  • Attempts to represent reality as it is seen from
    different perspectives
  • Mays Pope 2005

6
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Implications for epidemiological researchers
  • You may be part of, in fact may be constructing,
    the phenomena you are measuring

7
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Qualitative research is
  •  A situated activity that locates the observer
    in the world 
  • Qualitative researchers
  •  Study things in their natural settings,
    attempting to make sense of, or to interpret,
    phenomena in terms of the meaning people bring to
    them 
  • Denzin Lincoln, 2000

8
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Qualitative methods
  • Attempt to represent complex phenomena with
    multiple variables operating simultaneously
  • Rather than isolating the independent effects of
    single variables
  • Study phenomena as they occur naturally
  • without trying to hold factors constant or
    control confounding factors

9
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • Sub-paradigms of qualitative research
  • Constructivist aims for understanding,
    reconstruction of actors perspective
  • Examples grounded theory, ethnography, social
    constructivism, interpretive anthropology
  • Critical aims are social transformation,
    restitution, emancipation
  • Examples feminist, neomarxist, critical race
    theory, queer theory, postcolonial theory

10
1. Definitions and characteristics
  • The critical paradigm is finding a place in
    public health/epidemiology

11
Critical Public Health, Volume 14, Number 3 /
September 2004
  • 'We've been trained to put up with it' real
    women and the menopauseMargaret E. Morris A1
    and Anthea Symonds
  • Abstract
  • This paper, based on qualitative research among
    a group of women in South Wales, looks at the
    meanings they give to the menopause, its effects
    on their working and family lives and the support
    currently offered by medicine and health
    promotion. This study is set against a wider
    discussion of the medicalization of the
    menopause, and the organization of work within
    which the current generation of women are
    situated. It also argues for a new public health
    approach including the adoption of more
    qualitative research techniques that would
    address the concerns and beliefs of people rather
    than following the traditional 'objective'
    epidemiological model. The paper concludes that
    the present generation of women do not share a
    negative view of the menopause but are struggling
    against mixed messages from their own cultural
    background, from promotion of medicalized
    'solutions' and from contemporary pressures of
    work.

12
Qualitative paradigms contrasted
Based on Guba Lincoln, 1994.
13
Qualitative and quantitative paradigms contrasted
Based on Green, 1988.
14
2. Uses of qualitative methods
  • Two main approaches in health research to date
  • Enhancement model
  • Sees qualitative methods to be complementary
    (subsidiary to?)
  • Difference model
  • Qualitative research contributes to evidence
    bases in its own right

15
Uses of qualitative methods
  • Qualitative methods are used for
  • Assisting understanding of why interventions do
    or do not work
  • Improving the accuracy and relevance of standard
    quantitative approaches
  • i.e., getting inside the black box
  • PRE MEASURE POST
    MEASURE
  • PRE MEASURE POST
    MEASURE

PROGRAM
16
  • E.g.
  • POP Santé
  • Healthy alcohol consumption intervention
    evaluation

17
  • Developing quantitative measures that fully
    capture the phenomena of interest
  • e.g. study of teens qualitative experience of
    nicotine dependence
  • Finding unanticipated effects
  • Unstated objectives and issues
  • Generating hypotheses to be tested quantitatively

18
When and when not to usequalitative approaches
  • When
  • rich contextualized description is needed
  • variations in intervention implementation or
    process are to be assessed
  • new or refined program theory is needed
  • When not
  • causal attribution of intervention effects is
    required
  • incremental effects are to be isolated
  • resource expenditures are to be assessed

19
3. Qualitative methods
  • Data collection methods that are
  • Open-ended - do not pre-define
  • Response choices
  • Samples
  • Inclusive of all possible variables

20
Qualitative vs quantitative data gathering
  • Qualitative and quantitative data gathering are
    distinguished by several basic features
  • Quantitative
  • relatively large number of cases
  • highly structured and uniform
  • minimum of coding
  • captures only a limited number of variables of
    interest
  • Qualitative
  • less structured
  • significant variation among elements
  • smaller number of respondents
  • captures the entire field, not only a few
    isolated variables
  • requires coding

21
3. Qualitative methods
  • 1. Unstructured or semistructured interviews
  • List of questions, based on research questions
  • Interview flows like a conversation
  • Question wording and order may vary
  • (But standardization helps interviewers reduce
    bias)
  • Interviews are transcribed or summarized

22
3. Qualitative methods
  • 2. Group interviews focus groups
  • Semi-structured interviews with 6-10 people
  • Using
  • Interview guide
  • Facilitation techniques
  • Group is unit of analysis
  • Sessions are transcribed or summarized
  • Other group techniques nominal, delphi

23
3. Qualitative methods
  • 3. Observation
  • Using a semi-structured template
  • Participant observation
  • Observer becomes part of the scene
  • 4. Others
  • Photovoice
  • E.g. CAPC evaluaiton
  • Journaling
  • POP Santé
  • Stories, life histories, narratives
  • Montréal-North

24
  • 5. Case studies
  • Structured cross-case comparisons
  • E.g. Major Collaborative Research Initiatives
    program evaluation SSHRC
  • http//www.sshrc.ca/web/about/publications/mcri_pe
    rformance_e.pdf

25
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26
3. Qualitative methods
  • Qualitative sampling
  • Purposive intended to deliberately include
    meaningful cases
  • Including disconfirming cases
  • Progressive
  • Can be defined as the study progresses
  • Open
  • Stops when saturation is reached

27
3. Qualitative methods
  • Quantitative vs qualitative data
  • Qualitative data is usually some form of text,
    words
  • Transcription
  • Interview notes
  • Observation notes
  • Can also be visual data
  • Drawings
  • Photos
  • Film/video

28
Quantitative vs qualitative data
  • Must be organized, analyzed and interpreted to
    derive (induce) their meaning
  • Unlike quantitative data, where meaning is
    predetermined
  • Quantitative data as convenient (?) summaries of
    qualities eg. age

29
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • Involves inductive identification of categories
    of meaning and relationships among the categories

30
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31
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • Main types
  • Constructivist identification of emergent
    themes based on patterns of responses
  • E.g. ABC organization evaluation

32
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • Qualitative data analysis software
  • NVIVO (NU-Dist)
  • Atlas
  • Example street girls focus groups (Haley et al)
  • Positive association between contraception use
    and pregnancy

33
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34
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35
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36
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • Matrix
  • Classsification of content into cells of a matrix
    defined by analysis dimensions
  • Identification of patterns in across rows and
    columns
  • E.g. Motor vehicle deaths

37
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • Content analysis
  • formal counts of word frequency that can be
    treated quantitatively

38
4. Qualitative data analyses
  • What does the word  epidemiology  evoke for
    you?
  • Write down the first three words that come to
    your mind.

39
Santropol Roulants analysis
40
5. Advantages and disadvantages of qualitative
methods
  • Pros
  • Much deeper appreciation of phenomena under study
  • Many relate more easily to it than quantitative
    approaches
  • Cons
  • Often seen as soft, no substitute for controlled
    studies
  • Data collection and analysis is more costly and
    time consuming

41
5. Advantages and disadvantages data collection
and analysis
42
6. Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Many studies and evaluations in public health now
    combine qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Aiming for triangulation cross-validating
    results by comparing findings on the same
    question from multiple sources, methods
  • convergent results provide reassurance about the
    credibility and trustworthiness of the results
  • divergent results must be explained

43
Examples
  • Evaluation of a diabetes prevention program for
    primary schools (Heart and Stroke Foundation of
    Québec)
  • Quantitative pre-post design with control group
    measuring teacher-rated impacts on childrens
    knowledge and behaviour
  • Qualitative semi-structured interviews with
    principal, focus groups with teachers and
    students observation of teacher training

44
7. Quality in qualitative research
  • Questions to ask regarding the quality of
    qualitative measurement and analysis
  • Sampling
  • Did the sample include the full range of possible
    cases or settings so that conceptual rather than
    statistical generalizations could be made (that
    is, more than convenience sampling?)
  • If appropriate, were efforts made to obtain data
    that might contradict the or modify the analysis
    by extending the sample (for example, to a
    different type of area)?.

45
7. Quality in qualitative research
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Were the data collection and analysis procedures
    systematic?
  • Was an audit trail provided such that someone
    else could repeat each stage, including the
    analysis?
  • How well did the analysis succeed in
    incorporating all the observations?
  • To what extent did the analysis develop concepts
    and categories capable of explaining key
    processes or respondents accounts or
    observations?
  • Was it possible to follow the iteration between
    data and the explanations for the data?
  • Did the researcher search for disconfirming cases?

46
7. Quality in qualitative research
  • Reflexivity of the account
  • Did the researcher self-consciously assess the
    likely impact of the methods used on the data
    obtained?
  • Were sufficient data included in the reports of
    the study to provide sufficient evidence for
    readers to assess whether analytical criteria had
    been met?

47
7. Quality in qualitative research
  • Correspondences between paradigms
  • Reliability reproducibility
  • Validity credibility, trustworthiness
  • Generalizability not relevant

48
  • Recommended reading
  • Patton MQ (2002) Qualitative research and
    evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oakes,
    CASage Publications, Inc. 
  • Miles M., and Huberman, M. (1994). Qualitative
    Data Analysis An Expanded Sourcebook. Thousand
    Oaks, CA Sage
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