methods are efficient, and you should use them whenever you
can. Use qualitative
methods to get information that you cannot obtain well with
quantitative methods. Qualitative methods are used to study human
behavior and behavior changes. Complex behavior is not well captured
by quantitative techniques. Qualititative methods help you study
the variations of complex, human behavior in context. By connecting
quantitative data to behavior using qualitative methods, you can
enrich your results with people’s words and actions. Using system
process variables as your data, you can use qualitative methods
to find patterns. These results can be hypothesis-generating or
they may be used to test hypotheses. In qualitative research,
the conceptual framework arises from the data rather than from
preconceived hypotheses. Qualitative analysis techniques are therefore
both inductive and interactive. I give four examples.
Area of Research
working in a new research area and there is not much in the literature
to guide you. Qualitative research methodologies can allow your
colleagues, patients and their families to be your guides. Find
out what their experiences, priorities and current knowledge are.
Does everyone have the same issues? What are their current symptom
control techniques? Are they interested in and amenable to new
interventions? Have they found some solutions worth testing? How
can you facilitate the diffusion of successful symptom control
techniques? These questions are all suited to qualitative data
collection and analyses methods.
research techniques are especially useful for gathering and analyzing
exploratory data. You will need to know what patients, their families,
and clinicians believe and practice. You can get answers to at
least the following questions efficiently:
- What are
the important issues around symptom control?
- What does
effective symptom control mean?
- What do
research protocols and instruments mean to the clinicians implementing
them and the patients participating in them?
- What patient
education materials make sense to your patients and their families?
- What does
satisfaction with symptom control mean?
- Why are
some techniques adopted within and across settings, and others