Qualitative research and the profound grasp of the obvious

Health Serv Res. 1999 Dec;34(5 Pt 2):1119-36.


Objective: To discuss the value of promoting coexistent and complementary relationships between qualitative and quantitative research methods as illustrated by presentations made by four respected health services researchers who described their experiences in multi-method projects.

Data sources: Presentations and publications related to the four research projects, which described key substantive and methodological areas that had been addressed with qualitative techniques.

Principal findings: Sponsor interest in timely, insightful, and reality-anchored evidence has provided a strong base of support for the incorporation of qualitative methods into major contemporary policy research studies. In addition, many issues may be suitable for study only with qualitative methods because of their complexity, their emergent nature, or because of the need to revisit and reexamine previously untested assumptions.

Conclusion: Experiences from the four projects, as well as from other recent health services studies with major qualitative components, support the assertion that the interests of sponsors in the policy realm and pressure from them suppress some of the traditional tensions and antagonisms between qualitative and quantitative methods.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Academic Medical Centers
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Interinstitutional Relations
  • Managed Care Programs
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Policy Making*
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care / methods
  • Research Design*