Qualitative content analysis: a guide to paths not taken

Qual Health Res. 1993 Feb;3(1):112-21. doi: 10.1177/104973239300300107.


Counting codes makes qualitative content analysis a controversial approach to analyzing textual data. Several decades ago, mainstream content analysis rejected qualitative content analysis on the grounds that it was not sufficiently quantitative; today, it is often charged with not being sufficiently qualitative. This article argues that qualitative content analysis is distinctively qualitative in both its approach to coding and its interpretations of counts from codes. Rather than argue over whether to do qualitative content analysis, researchers must make informed decisions about when to use it in analyzing qualitative data.

MeSH terms

  • Abstracting and Indexing / standards*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods
  • Nursing Methodology Research / standards*