Use of qualitative methods in published health services and management research: a 10-year review

Med Care Res Rev. 2011 Feb;68(1):3-33. doi: 10.1177/1077558710372810. Epub 2010 Jul 30.


Over the past 10 years, the field of health services and management research has seen renewed interest in the use of qualitative research methods. This article examines the volume and characteristics of qualitative research articles published in nine major health services and management journals between 1998 and 2008. Qualitative research articles comprise 9% of research articles published in these journals. Although the publication rate of qualitative research articles has not kept pace with that of quantitative research articles, citation analysis suggests that qualitative research articles contribute comparably to the field's knowledge base. A wide range of policy and management topics has been examined using qualitative methods. Case study designs, interviews, and documentary sources were the most frequently used methods. Half of qualitative research articles provided little or no detail about key aspects the study's methods. Implications are discussed and recommendations are offered for promoting the publication of qualitative research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Research Design