Explicit guidelines for qualitative research: a step in the right direction, a defence of the 'soft' option, or a form of sociological imperialism?
Within the context of health service research, qualitative research has sometimes been seen as a 'soft' approach, lacking scientific rigour. In order to promote the legitimacy of using qualitative methodology in this field, numerous social scientists have produced checklists, guidelines or manuals for researchers to follow when conducting and writing up qualitative work. However, those working in the health service should be aware that social scientists are not all in agreement about the way in which qualitative work should be conducted, and they should not be discouraged from conducting qualitative research simply because they do not possess certain technical skills or extensive training in sociology, anthropology or psychology. The proliferation of guidelines and checklists may be off-putting to people who want to undertake this sort of research, and they may also make it even more difficult for researchers to publish work in medical journals. Consequently, the very people who may be in a position to change medical practice may never read the results of important qualitative research. (+info)
Computer analysis of qualitative data: the use of ethnograph.
Ethnograph, a code and retrieve software program for computer analysis of qualitative data, was utilized to assist in analyzing the content of in-depth interviews and focus group data. This program requires basic computer hardware and is fairly easy to use. The main advantage of the program is easy access to data dealing with a particular issue and easy retrieval of text for analysis and illustration. However, to get the maximum benefit from this program, documents need to be structured In the format suitable for the software. Among the difficulties encountered were the absence of on-line documents dummy coding, lack of options in printing facility and the tendency for the program to hang whenever there was a printing error. (+info)
Indicators of the quality of general practice care of patients with chronic illness: a step towards the real involvement of patients in the assessment of the quality of care.
OBJECTIVE: To develop a list of indicators of the general practice care of people with chronic illnesses considered important by both patients and practitioners and to identify the indicators that are considered relevant for patient assessment of health care quality. DESIGN: Qualitative study with focus group interviews and a written consensus procedure. SETTING: General practice in the Netherlands in 1993. SUBJECTS: 34 patients with chronic illness, mostly members of patient organisations, and 19 general practitioners with expertise in either chronic disease management or experience with patient surveys. MAIN MEASURES: Aspects of general practice care considered important for the delivery of good quality care that emerged from focus group interviews; the relevance of evaluations of 41 aspects of care for patients explored through the written consensus procedure. Those aspects of general practice care agreed to be both important and relevant by patients and general practitioners were considered to be suitable indicators for patient assessment of the quality of care. RESULTS: Patients and general practitioners differed to some extent in their assessment of the aspects of care that they considered important for quality. They agreed that most indicators of care that related to the inverted question markdoctor-patient relation inverted question mark and to inverted question markinformation and support inverted question mark were relevant and therefore suitable as indicators for patient assessment of health care quality. There was less agreement about the relevance of indicators of inverted question markmedical and technical care, inverted question mark inverted question markavailability and accessibility, inverted question mark and inverted question markorganisation of services. inverted question mark CONCLUSIONS: Several indicators of the quality of general practice care of patients with chronic illness were thought to be suitable for the patient assessment of healthcare quality, but other indicators were not, mainly because of reservations by general practitioners. IMPLICATIONS: Qualitative methods can contribute to the selection of indicators for assessment of the quality of health care in areas where scientific evidence is limited or where patients' and providers' preferences are particularly important. (+info)
Dirt and diarrhoea: formative research in hygiene promotion programmes.
Investment in the promotion of better hygiene for the prevention of diarrhoeal diseases and as a component of water and sanitation programmes is increasing. Before designing programmes capable of sustainably modifying hygiene behaviour in large populations, valid answers to a number of basic questions concerning the site and the intended beneficiaries have to be obtained. Such questions include 'what practices favour the transmission of enteric pathogens?', 'what advantages will be perceived by those who adopt safe practices?' and 'what channels of communication are currently employed by the target population?' A study of hygiene and diarrhoea in Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso, used a mixture of methods to address such questions. This paper draws on that experience to propose a plan of preliminary research using a variety of techniques which could be implemented over a period of a few months by planners of hygiene promotion programmes. The techniques discussed include structured observation, focus group discussions and behavioural trials. Modest investment in such systematic formative research with clear and limited goals is likely to be repaid many times over in the increased effectiveness of hygiene promotion programmes. (+info)
Understanding lay perspectives: care options for STD treatment in Lusaka, Zambia.
Understanding lay persons' perceptions of STD care is critical in the design and implementation of appropriate health services. Using 20 unstructured group interviews, 10 focus group discussions and 4 STD case simulations in selected sub-populations in Lusaka, we investigated lay person perspectives of STD services. The study revealed a large diversity of care options for STD in the communities, including self-care, traditional healers, medicine sold in the markets and streets, injections administered in the compounds, private clinics, health centres and hospital. The factors identified as influencing care seeking behaviour are: lay referral mechanisms, social cost, availability of care options, economics, beliefs, stigma and quality of care as perceived by the users. (+info)
Parental perceptions of barriers to childhood immunization: results of focus groups conducted in an urban population.
The current US immunization rates for 2 year olds are approximately half of the goal set for the year 2000. Research studies have focused primarily on the perception of health care providers in the identification of barriers and benefits to childhood immunization. While health care providers are an important part of the immunization delivery process, the perceptions of parents are also important. In this study, qualitative methods were used to explore perceived parental barriers to childhood immunization delivery. Twelve focus groups comprising White, African-American, Hispanic, urban and non-urban people were conducted at a variety of sites, including clinics, churches, schools and work sites. The results indicated that time off from work, access to well-child care and difficulty understanding the complexity of the immunization schedule were seen as barriers to adhering to an immunization schedule. Participants emphasized problems in taking time off from work to get immunizations, sometimes without pay, and expressed fears that doing so would jeopardize promotions and raises. While some of the parental perceptions were similar to those identified in studies of health care providers in the literature, many were not. This study emphasizes the importance of gathering information from parents as well as from health care providers. (+info)
Nurses' participation in audit: a regional study.
OBJECTIVES: To find out to what extent nurses were perceived to be participating in audit, to identify factors thought to impede their involvement, and to assess progress towards multidisciplinary audit. RESEARCH DESIGN: Qualitative. METHODS: Focus groups and interviews. PARTICIPANTS: Chairs of audit groups and audit support staff in hospital, community and primary health care and audit leads in health authorities in the North West Region. RESULTS: In total 99 audit leads/support staff in the region participated representing 89% of the primary health care audit groups, 80% of acute hospitals, 73% of community health services, and 59% of purchasers. Many audit groups remain medically dominated despite recent changes to their structure and organisation. The quality of interprofessional relations, the leadership style of the audit chair, and nurses' level of seniority, audit knowledge, and experience influenced whether groups reflected a multidisciplinary, rather than a doctor centred approach. Nurses were perceived to be enthusiastic supporters of audit, although their active participation in the process was considered substantially less than for doctors in acute and community health services. Practice nurses were increasingly being seen as the local audit enthusiasts in primary health care. Reported obstacles to nurses' participation in audit included hierarchical nurse and doctor relationships, lack of commitment from senior doctors and managers, poor organisational links between departments of quality and audit, work load pressures and lack of protected time, availability of practical support, and lack of knowledge and skills. Progress towards multidisciplinary audit was highly variable. The undisciplinary approach to audit was still common, particularly in acute services. Multidisciplinary audit was more successfully established in areas already predisposed towards teamworking or where nurses had high involvement in decision making. Audit support staff were viewed as having a key role in helping teams to adopt a collaborative approach to audit. CONCLUSION: Although nurses were undertaking audit, and some were leading developments in their settings, a range of structural and organisational, interprofessional and intraprofessional factors was still impeding progress. If the ultimate goal of audit is to improve patient care, the obstacles that make it difficult for nurses to contribute actively to the process must be acknowledged and considered. (+info)
Cost recovery in Ghana: are there any changes in health care seeking behaviour?
The study aimed to investigate the impact on health care seeking behaviour of the cost-sharing policies introduced in Ghana between 1985 and 1992. Qualitative research techniques were used to investigate the behaviour of patients after the introduction of these policies. Focus group discussions of cohorts of the population and in-depth interviews of health workers and selected opinion leaders were used to collect data from rural and urban health care facilities in three districts of Ghana. The study findings indicate that the cost recovery policies have led to an increase in self-medication and other behaviours aimed at cost-saving. At the same time, there is a perception of an improvement in the drug supply situation and general health delivery in government facilities. The study advocated enhanced training of drug peddlers and attendants at drug stores, especially in rural areas. User fee exemption criteria need to be worked out properly and implemented so that the very needy are not precluded from seeking health care at hospitals and clinics. (+info)