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  1. In your own words, discuss what it meant by the qualitative research approach to knowledge generation.
  2. What are the characteristics of qualitative research studies?
  3. Locate a nursing related journal article that used a qualitative research approach.  Using what you know about qualitative research, answer the following questions:
  4. What was the problem area and research question?
  5. What were the study’s concepts, independent variables, dependent variables, and operational definitions (if any)?
  6. How did the author overcome the limitations of doing a qualitative study?
  7. Did the author question any collective subjective beliefs? If so, what were they?
  8. Did the qualitative study incorporate “human concern” for the client with effective nursing practice?  Explain, providing examples from the study. 

Research Designs:Qualitative Research

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Research Desings Qualitative Research


Upon completion of this lesson, I am hopeful that you will be able to:

1. Define what qualitative research is 2. Distinguish between qualitative research and quantitative research 3. Identify than characteristics of qualitative research data collection approaches. 4. Identify and distinguish the major types of qualitative research designs 5. Describe qualitative research concepts

What is Qualitative Research? What is Qualitative Research?

Qualitative research is a type of scientific research that:

Uses an EMERGENT DESIGN Preserves the form and content of interaction Sees answer to a question Emphasis on seeing the world through the eyes of the participants Reality is constructed by the individual. Aims for subjectivity Are concerned with the richness of the description Systematically uses a predefined set of procedures to answer the question Researcher and researched relatively close

Inductive analysis

From the specific to the general Explanations and theories emerge from the data Propositions formulated continuously throughout the data collection and data analysis process The strength of “Qualitative research” is that focuses on gaining insight and understanding about an individual’s perception of events. It provides information about the “human” side of an issue. In qualitative research, the researcher searches for patterns and themes in the data, rather than focusing on the testing of hypotheses.

Example of Qualitative Research

Esteves, A., Roxo, J., & Saraiva, M. D. C. (2015). The lived experience of people with progressive advanced cancer. British Journal of Nursing, 24(10), S15-S21. Abstract:This study aimed to understand the lived experience of patients with progressive advanced oncological disease. Seven women in an acute hospital in Portugal were interviewed and the results analyzed using a phenomenological approach to understand their lived experience. The analysis indicated that lived experience of these patients has six essential constituents: information about one’s own health; perception of the disease; emotional reactions; aid strategies by nurses; imitations imposed by the disease; and changes in life perspective. The experience of advanced progressive cancer is very powerful and complex. The authors believe that this study has contributed to the understanding of this situation, particularly in terms of helping to improve palliative care practices.

Comparisons Between Qualitative and Quantitative Methods One methodology is not inherently better than the other Each has advantages and limitations Method should be selected because it helps the researcher answer hypotheses and research question

What are the differences between qualitative research and quantitative research?



Quantitative Vs. Qualitative Research

Collect measures in a controlled environment

Natural environment.

Collect data via observation, interviews, surveys, etc.

Experimentation Interaction

Deductive Inductive


Apply statistical calculations


Predict outcome & design experiment to test outcome

Create in-depth descriptions and understandings of characteristics

Researcher is objective Researcher is a participant

Test your knowledge!

Look a at the research studies listed below . In which studies would you expect to see a qualitative approach used and in which studies would you expect to see a quantitative approach?

Steps in Qualitative Research All research whether quantitative or qualitative , must be involved a systematic approach to finding things out.

1. Identify a research problem/state the problem.

Of interest to the researcher

2. State the Purpose of the study

Bases on problem analysis

3..Develop a conceptual/theoretical framework for the study.

4. Formulate general and specific research questions (aims and objectives)

5. Select the Research Design

6. Select a sampling strategy

Establish site of the research Selection of participants

7. Protect the Rights of Participants

8. Determine data collection methods and develop data collection tools

9. Establish how data will be managed and analyzed

10. Interpretation and discussion of findings

11 .Prepare research report

Sampling in Qualitative Research Qualitative research focuses on discovering meaning and multiple realities, so sampling is based on obtaining adequate, appropriate information, Participants must have first-hand experience with the research topic (e.g., homelessness, gang involvement, attending medical school) and be able to talk about it. Researcher establishes a clear criteria and rationale for sample selection. Goal is not generalization of findings but rich descriptions of phenomenon by those who have experienced it

Types of sampling:

Convenience sampling

Snowball sampling

Through informants identify others who know a lot about the issue

Purposeful sampling

Not haphazard Select information-rich cases

Sample Size

No firm establishment of criteria or rules Should be determined on the basis of informational needs

Data Saturation

Sampling to the point at which no new information is obtained and redundancy is achieved Refers to a situation in data analysis where participants’ descriptions become repetitive and confirm previously collected data An indication that data analysis is complete When data analysis is complete, data collection is terminated

What are some qualitative research methods? The main methods employed in qualitative research are observation, interviews, and focus group interviews

1. Participant observation

Non-participant/Passive observation Useful for collecting data on naturally occurring contexts. Unobtrusive or limited participation It focuses on the “why” rather than the “what”. Intensive, usually long term, examination of a social group, an organization, etc. Researcher becomes a participant in the lives of group members

Observes their behavior and learns meaning systems. Most closely associated with Ethnography, as developed in Classical Anthropology

2.In-depth interviews

In depth interviews are used to obtain a deep understanding of the thoughts, behaviors and motivation of selected individuals.

In-depth interviews allow participants to describe their experiences and the meaning of events taking place in their lives Verbatim quotes capture the language and meaning expressed by participants Interviews are flexible and allow for probing Interview method is quite diverse, adaptive

Three types

Structured interviews Semi-structured interviews Unstructured interviews

Bracketing – setting aside one’s biases and personal views on a topic

3. Focus group interviews

A focus group is made up of a small number of carefully selected

people who are recruited to discuss a subject based on the com-

monality of their experience.

The main characteristic of focus groups are:

Interview format, but in a group setting Commonality of experience and interest. 6-12 participants to allow everyone the opportunity to share insights of the experience. One focus group is ONE unit of analysis Series of groups is necessary for trustworthiness

Qualitative researchers may combine more than one method

Analyzing Qualitative data Qualitative data analysis is a non-linear / iterative process Consists of describing information and developing themes Numerous rounds of questioning, reflecting, rephrasing, analyzing, theorizing, verifying after each observation, interview, or Focus Group Discussion

Credibility in qualitative research

Extent to which data interpretations are

true correct dependable Allows for multiple interpretations by asking “What’s plausible?”

Enhancing credibility

Triangulation: use of several kinds of methods or data to enhance credibility

Data triangulation Investigator triangulation Interdisciplinary triangulation

Member validation

Taking research findings back to individuals who provided data

Assessing qualitative research questions

Should ask how or what?

Should reference the research site?

Focus on a specific type of interaction? Discover how meaning is developed/shared? Reveal naturally occurring communication not suitable for study in an experiment? Reveal unanticipated phenomena/influences? Reveal process that occur over time? Explore the influences of the context?

Threats to credibility

Inaccuracy or incompleteness of data Problems of interpretation Whose interpretation is being imposed? Theoretical validity What about data that fail to fit the interpretation? Selection bias Reactivity bias

Qualitative Research Traditions There are many different qualitative research traditions or approaches

Qualitative research includes many methods:

Phenomenology: the study of lived experiences Ethnography: systematic study of cultures Grounded Theory: data are collected, analyzed, and used to develop a theoretical explanation and generate hypotheses for further research. Case Study: in-depth description of essential dimensions and processes of the phenomenon being studied.

Ethnography Ethnography means a ‘portrait of people’.

Is an approach that relies on the collection of data in the natural environment. Studies the culture through the researcher’s immersion in the culture It seeks to convey a cultural description of groups in society and has its roots in cultural anthropology. It provides a framework for studying meanings, patterns, and experiences defined by a cultural group in a holistic fashion.

Jennings, B. M., Sandelowski, M., & Higgins, M. K. (2013). Turning over patient turnover: An ethnographic study of admissions, discharges, and transfers. Research in nursing & health, 36(6), 554-566. The impact on nursing work of patient turnover (admissions, discharges, and transfers) became evident in an ethnographic study of turbulence. The patient turnover data were generated from extensive observations, 21 formal interviews, and a year of admission and discharge records on one medical and one surgical unit. Timing of turnover events on the two units differed, but on both units admissions typically interrupted workflow more than did discharges, clustered admissions were more disruptive than staggered admissions, and patient turnover during change of shift was more disruptive than during medication administration. Understanding the complexity of patient turnover will elucidate the work involved and improve the evidence base for nurse staffing, a key determinant of quality and safety of care. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Res Nurs Health 36: 554–556, 2013

Two perspectives:

Emic – insider’s view, the way the members of a culture envision their world

Etic – outsiders’ interpretation of the experiences of that culture – strive to get at cultural experiences that members do not talk about or may not even be consciously aware

Researcher as instrument – to study a culture it requires a certain level of intimacy – needs to be developed – become one within the culture.

Phenomenology Phenomenology is both philosophy and a research method is based on the premise that there’s not a single reality but that each person embraces his or her own reality. The goals of the phenomenological approach are to accurately describe human events and to unveil their essential meanings. To achieve these goals, a researcher conducts in-depth interviews and has intensive dialogues with the people experiencing the events.

Purpose of this research method is to describe experiences as they are lived – to capture the “lived experience”. Reveal the meaning of the lived experience from the perspective of participants

Describe the essences of lived experience

Hinderer, K. A. (2012). Reactions to patient death: the lived experience of critical care nurses. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 31(4), 252-259. A qualitative study using phenomenological descriptive design was conducted to explore critical care nurses’ experiences with patient death. Several themes emerged as a result of this study: coping, personal distress, emotional disconnect, and inevitable death. Understanding critical care nurses’ reactions to patient death may help to improve the care provided to critically ill dying patients and their families and to meet the needs of the nurses who care for them.

Essences: elements related to the true meaning of something that gives common understanding to the phenomenon under study

Conveyed with descriptive language

Grounded Theory Is an inductive research technique developed for health-related topics by Glaser & Strauss (1967). Emerged from the discipline of sociology Emphasizes the development of theory “Grounded” – means the theory developed from the research is grounded or has it roots in the data from which is was derived. Explores how people define reality and how their beliefs are related to their actions. Meaning is expressed through – symbols – such as words, religious objects, and clothing. Symbolic meanings are different for each of us.

Gaffney, D. A., DeMarco, R. F., Hofmeyer, A., Vessey, J. A., & Budin, W. C. (2012). Making things right: Nurses’ experiences with workplace bullying—A grounded theory. Nursing research and practice, 2012. While bullying in the healthcare workplace has been recognized internationally, there is still a culture of silence in many institutions in the United States, perpetuating underreporting and insufficient and unproven interventions. The deliberate, repetitive, and aggressive behaviors of bullying can cause psychological and/or physical harm among professionals, disrupt nursing care, and threaten patient safety and quality outcomes. Much of the literature focuses on categories of bullying behaviors and nurse responses. This qualitative study reports on the experiences of nurses confronting workplace bullying. A constructivist grounded theory approach was used to analyze the data and shape a theory of how nurses make things right when confronted with bullying. In a four-step process, nurses place bullying in context, assess the situation, take action, and judge the outcomes of their actions. While many nurses do engage in a number of effective yet untested strategies, two additional concerns remain: inadequate support among nursing colleagues and silence and inaction by nurse administrators.

The Case Study Interest is in an individual case rather than in a method of inquiry Focus on what can be learned from the individual case A ‘case’ may be simple or complex

Single child Class of children

Pepper, B., Kirshner, M. C., & Ryglewicz, H. (2014). The young adult chronic patient: Overview of a population. Psychiatric Services. A new generation of persistently dysfunctional young adults (aged 18 to 35) has emerged in the community, requiring new programs in community care. This population, which includes a wide range of diagnostic groups, is under study at a suburban New York community mental health center.The purpose of this article is to raise the consciousness of mental health professionals to the other side of deinstitutionalization: the emergence of a population of young adult chronic patients who have spent relatively little time in hospitals but who present persistent and frustrating problems to community caregivers in mental health and other social service systems.

Appraising Qualitative Studies No single set of criteria can serve all qualitative approaches equally well.

The aim of trustworthiness in a qualitative inquiry is to support the argument that the inquiry’s findings are “worth paying attention to” (Lincoln & Guba, 1981, p.290).

Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) Criteria for establishing “trustworthiness”

1. Credibility: refers to confidence in the truth of the data

Demonstrated by accuracy and validity that is assured through documentation Roughly parallel to internal validity in quantitative appraisal

2. Dependability: refers to data stability over time and over conditions

Demonstrated by a research process that is carefully documented to provide evidence of how conclusions were reached and whether, under similar conditions, a researcher might expect to obtain similar findings Parallels reliability

3. Confirmability: refers to the objectivity or neutrality of the data – what does that mean?

Demonstrated by providing substantiation that findings and interpretations are grounded in the data Parallels objectivity

4. Transferability: refers to the extent to which the findings from the data

can be transferred to other settings or groups = similar to the concept of generalizability

Demonstrated by information that is sufficient for a research consumer to determine whether findings are meaningful to other people in similar situations Parallels external validity

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