Conducting qualitative research in mental health: Thematic and content analyses

Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2015 Jul;49(7):616-23. doi: 10.1177/0004867415582053. Epub 2015 Apr 21.


Objective: The objective of this paper is to describe two methods of qualitative analysis - thematic analysis and content analysis - and to examine their use in a mental health context.

Method: A description of the processes of thematic analysis and content analysis is provided. These processes are then illustrated by conducting two analyses of the same qualitative data. Transcripts of qualitative interviews are analysed using each method to illustrate these processes.

Results: The illustration of the processes highlights the different outcomes from the same set of data.

Conclusion: Thematic and content analyses are qualitative methods that serve different research purposes. Thematic analysis provides an interpretation of participants' meanings, while content analysis is a direct representation of participants' responses. These methods provide two ways of understanding meanings and experiences and provide important knowledge in a mental health context.

Keywords: Qualitative research; bipolar disorder; content analysis; mental health; methodology; thematic analysis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder / therapy
  • Humans
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods*