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Understanding qualitative research in health care


Qualitative studies are often used to research phenomena that are difficult to quantify numerically.1,2 These may include concepts, feelings, opinions, interpretations and meanings, or why people behave in a certain way. Although qualitative research is often described in opposition to quantitative research, the approaches are complementary, and many researchers use mixed methods in their projects, combining the strengths of both approaches.2 Many comprehensive texts exist on qualitative research methodology including those with a focus on healthcare related research.2-4 Here we give a brief introduction to the rationale, methods and quality assessment of qualitative research.

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