Qualitative research design is one of the most widely used forms of scientific research. Qualitative design provides extensive opportunities for analyzing the most problematic issues. Qualitative design is successfully applied in various research domains, including medicine and nursing. This paper will explore the applicability and usability of qualitative research design in clinical and health promotion fields.
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In her article, Strudwick (2010) performs a qualitative study exploring the experiences of African-Caribbean informal stroke carers in the UK. The author applies qualitative methodology to research three urban locations in southern England (Strudwick, 2010). Semi-structured interviews were used to explore the various aspects of stroke carers’ experiences in the UK, including the themes of faith, religion, family ties, and institutionalized care (Strudwick, 2010).
In their turn, Sheikh et al (2009) use qualitative research methodology to investigate the issue of recruiting minority ethnic people into research, especially in disease areas that display significant ethnic inequalities. 36 researchers and 10 community leaders were interviewed to identify attitudes and barriers to involving minority participants in clinical researches about asthma. Sheikh et al (2009) conclude that researchers and community leaders vote for the broadened participation of minority subjects in clinical research but acknowledge that increasing minority participation will not be possible, unless UK funding bodies follow the lead of the US National Institutes of Health that require recruitment of ethnic minorities.
In both cases, the benefits of qualitative research design were used to achieve the goals and objectives of the study. Strudwick (2010) used semi-structured interviews to interview stroke carers in the UK – no empirical information from other researches or interviews was used. All semi-structures interviews were carried out by the first author (Strudwick, 2010).
In the same way, Sheikh et al (2009) applied to the benefits of qualitative research design and used semi-structures interviews and questionnaires to identify and investigate other peoples’ ideas, perceptions, and experiences about engaging minority populations in clinical research. No other empirical data were used. A combination of semi-structured interviews and questionnaires was used to interview UK- and US-based researchers; interviews only were used for community leaders (Sheikh et al, 2009).
The use of semi-structured interviews laid the foundation for the development of the qualitative research framework in Strudwick (2010). The philosophic implications of such research design were in how semi-structured interviews would help to examine predetermined topics and to raise the new and unexpected ones. To make the research framework more effective, the author used an interview topic guide and conducted a pilot study with two carers (Strudwick, 2010). I think that the pilot study was the key to successful development of the research framework for Strudwick’s study.
Sheikh et al (2009) used somewhat different qualitative approach, but the use of interviews and questionnaires in their study pursued the same philosophic principles as those for Strudwick (2010): the authors sought to understand people’s ideas, beliefs, perceptions, and experiences on the importance of ethnic minority participation in clinical trials. In their research design, the authors relied on the information from the US- and the UK-based researchers, to be able to grasp the influence of different contextual factors on their beliefs about research.
In both articles, peer-reviewed research articles served the basic source of additional empirical information pertaining to the research topic. As a result, articles were the ones the authors cited or referred to most frequently. Strudwick (2010) used 36 various resources, while Sheikh et al (2009) utilized 35. Although both works cited lists included books, the latter obviously served only a supplementary element of the qualitative analysis.
Both Strudwick (2010) and Sheikh et al (2009) discussed the strengths and limitations of their study. Although Strudwick’s (2010) research adds to the current state of knowledge about stroke carers’ experiences in the U.S., the results of the study cannot be generalized, as long as the choice of research participants was based on convenience sampling. In case of Sheikh et al (2009), the study provides an insight into why the differences exist between the rates of minority recruitment between the US and the UK clinical trials, but the researchers fear that given the sensitivity of the study, research participants could consciously choose to give “politically correct” answers.
Both study designs were comprehensive and easy to replicate. In case of Sheikh et al (2009), such replication is necessary and justified, given the sensitivity of the topic – additional research will help to discover what US- and UK-based researchers really think about engaging minority subjects in clinical trials. I also believe that both studies provide useful information about how qualitative research design works in practice, and what study and methodological limitations researchers may want to address. I am confident that it is through the analysis of peer-reviewed articles can researcher get an insight into how to conduct qualitative research. However, I am also confident that no article can secure even the most professional researcher from methodological flaws, which are natural and characteristic of any research design.
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