Content analysis methods for conducting research in social and administrative pharmacy

Res Social Adm Pharm. 2008 Jun;4(2):173-81. doi: 10.1016/j.sapharm.2007.03.003.


Background: Content analysis is a research technique used to systematically collect and analyze the makeup and exchange of communication through various visual, auditory, and print media. It has been used in health care to study communications to audiences using a broad range of media.

Objective: The purpose of this article is to introduce the methodology of content analysis and suggest some recommendations for its use.

Methods: A review of steps used in content analysis are provided and illustrated using 2 examples of pharmacy advertising research to highlight major ideas, delineate problems faced when using the methodology, and describe how issues were resolved.

Results: The quality of content analysis studies depends on using clear definitions of study constructs, explicit sampling methods, systematic analysis and reporting of data, and inferences that incorporate current research evidence. Transparent methods that permit reproducibility of results are essential.

Conclusions: Ultimately, good content analysis depends on the skill, competence, diligence, and integrity of trained researchers.

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Data Collection
  • Pharmacy Administration*
  • Pharmacy*
  • Research Design*