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Qualitative Analysis In Medicine: Best Approaches

Using Qualitative Analysis in Medicine

qualitative analysis in medicineQualitative analysis in medicine as well as qualitative comparative analysis or content analysis qualitative research is becoming more widely accepted throughout the field. It uses cause and effect thinking and investigates the why and how of things, and not just what where and when. Nursing programs are an example of some areas that are changing to meet the trend towards qualitative analysis that medicine is making.Qualitative analysis is not replacing quantitative. Rather both are being incorporated into both research and practice to produce overall better care.

Processes in Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is made up of two processes They are:

  1. Conceptualizing and planning. During this stage an area of research is identified. A data collection site is chosen and preliminary contact is made with key people there. The method s that will be used in the collection and analysis of data should also be identified, as well as any requirements regarding supplies, materials and personnel.
  2. Conducting the qualitative study. The study consists of:
  • Data collection
  • Data Analysis
  • Interpretation

Methods of Collecting Data for Qualitative Analysis in Medicine

There are many methods of collecting data for an analysis. Qualitative data collection methods falls into two broad categories:

1. Obtrusive – Obtrusive methods involve interaction with the researcher and participants. Obtrusive methods include the following:

  • Semi-structured interviews
  • In-depth interviews
  • Focus group discussion
  • Ethnography

2. Unobtrusive – Unobtrusive methods involve little or no interaction. Some of the unobtrusive methods of data collection are:

  • Observation
  • Document analysis
  • Discourse analysis
  • Audio-visual

The method of collection depends partly on the question being addressed. More than one method of data collection may also be used.

Analytic Strategies and Approaches in Medicine

There are several strategies or approaches for the examination of data using qualitative analysis in medicine. Methods that might be used include:

  • Constant comparative analysis – This involves taking one piece of data and comparing it with all others that may be similar or different, to try and gain some ideas and concepts of the relationship between various pieces of data. Naturalistic inquiry, thematic analysis and interpretive description depend on constant comparative analysis processes to some extent.
  • Phenomenological approaches – These are approaches that focus on individual cases as opposed to comparing and looking for relationships between data.
  • Ethnographic methods – Ethnographic methods can be used to uncover variations in how different social and cultural groups understand and enact health and illness.

Steps in the Data Analysis Process

Qualitative analysis in medicine consists of the following basic steps:

  • Organize and prepare the data for analysis
  • Get an overview by reading all the data
  • Start a detailed analysis with the coding process
  • Write a description of the setting and people involved
  • Identify themes

Interpret the Results

There is some criticism of qualitative analysis in medicine and its credibility. Much of the criticism has been laid to rest by developing procedures and methods to ensure validity and dependability in results. Qualitative methods are being used to develop hypotheses that can be tested by quantitative methods and has helped to improve credibility. The American Statistical Association’s website at http://www.amstat.org/ is a good place to visit for those who would like to learn more about statistical analysis in medicine.

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