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)
How can statistical mechanics contribute to social science?
A model of interdependent decision making has been developed to understand group differences in socioeconomic behavior such as nonmarital fertility, school attendance, and drug use. The statistical mechanical structure of the model illustrates how the physical sciences contain useful tools for the study of socioeconomic phenomena. (+info)
How will we know "good" qualitative research when we see it? Beginning the dialogue in health services research.
OBJECTIVE: To lay the foundation for an explicit review and dialogue concerning the criteria that should be used to evaluate qualitative health services research. Clear criteria are critical for the discipline because they provide a benchmark against which research can be assessed. DATA SOURCES: Existing literature in the social sciences and health services research, particularly in primary care and medicine. PRINCIPAL FINDING: Traditional criteria for evaluating qualitative research are rooted in the philosophical perspective (positivism) most closely associated with quantitative research and methods. As a result, qualitative research and methods may not be used as frequently as they can be and research results generated from qualitative studies may not be disseminated as widely as possible. However, alternative criteria for evaluating qualitative research have been proposed that reflect a different philosophical perspective (post-positivism). Moreover, these criteria are tailored to the unique purposes for which qualitative research is used and the research designs traditionally employed. While criteria based on these two different philosophical perspectives have much in common, some important differences exist. CONCLUSION: The field of health services research must engage in a collective, "qualitative" process to determine which criteria to adopt (positivist or post-positivist), or whether some combination of the two is most appropriate. Greater clarity about the criteria used to evaluate qualitative research will strengthen the discipline by fostering a more appropriate and improved use of qualitative methods, a greater willingness to fund and publish "good" qualitative research, and the development of more informed consumers of qualitative research results. (+info)
Understanding life-style and food use: contributions from the social sciences.
The contribution of social sciences to the study of life-style and food use in Britain is illustrated by drawing on recent evidence of purchasing patterns, reports of the organisation of meals, snacks, eating out and images of the origins of food. Work discussed underlines a considerable degree of empirical complexity, demonstrates that the supply side as well as demand should be taken into account, and illustrates the manner in which even supposedly highly voluntaristic spheres of consumption activity may none the less be circumscribed. The article is prefaced by briefly contrasting the approach to 'life-style' adopted by market researchers, public health professionals and social theorists. It concludes with the proposal that in order to understand the complexity surrounding human food use, we may be advised to consider ensuring that the descriptive and conceptual tools being used can capture that complexity. (+info)
Toward an informatics research agenda: key people and organizational issues.
As we have advanced in medical informatics and created many impressive innovations, we also have learned that technologic developments are not sufficient to bring the value of computer and information technologies to health care systems. This paper proposes a model for improving how we develop and deploy information technology. The authors focus on trends in people, organizational, and social issues (POI/OSI), which are becoming more complex as both health care institutions and information technologies are changing rapidly. They outline key issues and suggest high-priority research areas. One dimension of the model concerns different organizational levels at which informatics applications are used. The other dimension draws on social science disciplines for their approaches to studying implications of POI/OSI in informatics. By drawing on a wide variety of research approaches and asking questions based in social science disciplines, the authors propose a research agenda for high-priority issues, so that the challenges they see ahead for informatics may be met better. (+info)
The utility of social capital in research on health determinants.
Social capital has become a popular subject in the literature on determinants of health. The concept of social capital has been used in the sociological, political science, and economic development literatures, as well as in the health inequalities literature. Analysis of its use in the health inequalities literature suggests that each theoretical tradition has conceptualized social capital differently. Health researchers have employed a wide range of social capital measures, borrowing from several theoretical traditions. Given the wide variation in these measures and an apparent lack of consistent theoretical or empirical justification for their use, conclusions about the likely role of "social capital" on population health may be overstated or even misleading. Elements of a research agenda are proposed to further elucidate the potential role of factors currently subsumed under the rubric of "social capital." (+info)
Occupational health and social resources.
There is a relationship between the changes in work-related diseases and the following factors: the transformation of the organization of work, organizational development, as well as human and social changes in the work environment. These factors also influence the maintenance of industrial health and safety standards at work. Safety technology will continue to be important, but will be reduced in significance compared to the so-called soft factors, that is, all dimensions and parameters affecting people's health and social environment at the work place. It seems that in the future the relationship between the social resource development and work protection will become more relevant. Social resource development influences the quality of work performance and motivation, the quality of work and work protection, the likelihood of accidents and breakdowns, and the level of self-control and capacity of change. The consequences of work protection research will be discussed in this article with a focus on the contribution of social sciences. (+info)
Attitudes of Hungarian students and nurses to physician assisted suicide.
In Hungary, which has one of the highest rates of suicide in the world, physician assisted suicide (PAS) and euthanasia are punishable criminal acts. Attitudes towards self destruction and assisted suicide are, however, very controversial. We investigated the attitudes of medical students, nurses and social science students in Hungary towards PAS, using a twelve item scale: the total number of participants was 242. Our results indicate a particular and controversial relationship between attitudes towards assisted suicide in Hungary and experience with terminally ill people. The social science students, who had the fewest personal experiences with terminally ill patients, are characterised by the most permissive attitudes towards assisted suicide. Nurses, who had everyday contact and experience with these patients, were the most conservative, being least supportive of assisted suicide. The attitudes of medical students, the would be physicians, are somewhere between those of nurses and social science students. (+info)