Why Choose Qualitative Research

Qualitative research uses an approach to learn what participants think about a specific topic, to learn their opinions and perceptions and how those opinions were formed. This type of research gathers data in the form of words rather than numbers.

Words tell a story of a snapshot of time.  Use of qualitative methodology provides the researcher the opportunity to ask open ended questions and gather deeper, richer data.  For example, in quantitative research a question might be, did you find services acceptable? Using an open-ended question allows the participant to explain why the services were acceptable (or not), and what aspects of the service was acceptable (or not) by asking them to explain how the services received were acceptable.  Asking how and why questions add to the researcher’s ability to draw out further data.

Healthcare often uses qualitative research to explore issues like: how patients utilize telehealth or how does hospital culture and resilience impact a nurses’ willingness to speak up about patient safety. Or, what effect does health literacy have on over-utilization of emergency services.

Then there’s the customer service research that goes beyond the likert scale of questions on generic satisfaction survey and dives deeper to understand what and why a patient thinks a specific way about the services provided.

We often hear “we know what our patients [or customers] think.”  That’s great but that isn’t always the case, in fact we’ve been able to help more than one medical practice make improvements because the physicians and leaders were unaware of the issues raised during interviews or focus groups with their patients.  Qualitative research can be used to provide evidence of an issue or problem that can be resolved or a service that can be improved.

Similar to quantitative analysis, most qualitative researchers use software to conduct the analysis. While analysis is much more than codes and themes which support the stories (or narratives) of the participants, the skill of the researcher is necessary to create the analytical approach to address the goals and objectives of the study.

Why choose qualitative research?  Words matter and contribute to a deeper understanding of a situation or problem.