Skip to main content
Search form
  • 00:00

    [MUSIC PLAYING][RESEARCH METHODS tutorial][Using Qualitative Description in Health Research]

  • 00:14

    SHATONDA JONES: Hello, my name is Shatonda Jones,and I'm an Associate Professor of Communication Sciencesand Disorders at Rockhurst University in KansasCity, Missouri.I am a speech language pathologist by tradewho specializes in adults and geriatricswith neurogenic communication and swallowing disorders.

  • 00:35

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: I consider myself to be a qualitative researcherwith my methods of choice being ethnography,phenomenology, and qualitative description, whichis what we're going to talk about today.I think you'll find that qualitative description isparticularly helpful if you're new to qualitative researchor if you really just want a straightforward

  • 00:56

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: description of your data.With that, let's chat.First, we probably should remind ourselvesof the most basic differences between qualitativeand quantitative research methods.Let's start with quantitative first.Doctor Karim Abawi 2008, defines quantitative research

  • 01:17

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: as a process based on testing of theory composed of variables,measured with numbers, and analyzedusing statistical techniques.SPSS, SAS, those are some of the productsthat you might use to crunch your numbers.Whereas qualitative research is definedas a process of building a complex and holistic picture

  • 01:40

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: of the phenomena of interest conducted in a natural setting.You might find that you're not using SPSS, SAS,or other statistical computing software,but rather things like in vivo, quality,or other qualitative analysis software.Creswell 2007 suggest that qualitative researchers

  • 02:02

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: have an array of qualitative researchdesigns at their disposal, including designs,such as ethnography and phenomenology, narratives,grounded theory, case study, and participatory action researchjust to name a few.Each of these designs has their own unique theoriesand ways of going about sampling,

  • 02:25

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: collecting data, analyzing data, and presenting data.Some of these designs have more proscribed steps,while others allow a little bit more flexibility.However, there is another qualitative designthat you may find helpful in your researchand that's what we're talking about today,qualitative description.

  • 02:46

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Remember, we should never force a research methodto fit the question, but rather select a method thatis in line with the type of research that we want to do,and you may find that qualitative description fitsthat excellently.In 2000, Margarete Sandelowski wrote an article entitled,"Whatever happened to qualitative description?"

  • 03:08

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: In this article, she discussed a qualitative research designthat was not new, but was a design that was rarelynamed when researchers used it.Why?Well, she described the method as planer, but nonethelessimportant, especially as other qualitative design methods,such as grounded theory, phenomenology,

  • 03:31

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: and ethnography became increasingly more complex.So what is qualitative description?Well, Polit and Beck 2014, describequalitative description as a qualitative researchmethod that is descriptive by designand is very useful in health care and nursingresearch among other things.

  • 03:54

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Sandelowski 2000 adds this quote.All inquiry entails description, and all descriptionentails interpretation.This means that regardless of what other methodsyou might use, there is a need to describe what you see, hear,experience to ever begin to interpret the information.

  • 04:16

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: As we go forward in this case, you'regoing to notice that I'm going to quote Doctor Sandelowski2000 quite a bit, because she is veryimportant in our understanding of qualitative description.So now, let's apply this to a case.Let's say that you're interested in learningwhy people in your local communitychoose or choose not to attend a free healthy lifestyle

  • 04:41

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: course offered at the local hospital.You specifically want to know what reasonsthey have for their choice.To do this, you decide that you wantto talk to a group of individuals representativeof the community, and you'd like to obtain their responsesin a straightforward minimally interpreted fashion.

  • 05:02

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Meaning, you want a straightforward descriptionof the data.So now, let's talk about naturalistic inquiry.In 2017, Kim, Sefcik, and Bradway,borrowing from Sandelowski in 2000,suggest that researchers using qualitative descriptionuse naturalistic inquiry and examine the topic of interest

  • 05:25

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: in its most natural state, allowing themselvesto be unencumbered by specific theoretical frameworksby other qualitative methodologies.The researchers invited to be eclectic in their approach.Meaning, they can add elements of phenomenology,or grounded theory, or ethnography,which Sandelowski caused notes.

  • 05:47

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: But even in their eclectic approach,it has to make sense the particular questionof interest, and again, have sound samplingdata collection and representational techniques.So for our case, let's say we go ahead and decideto move forward with qualitative descriptionnow that we feel like this method actually fits

  • 06:08

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: what we're trying to study.We are really interested in the voice of the community,and we don't want to interpret too much what we hear.Now, we need to sample.In 2009, a researcher by the name of Nergardsuggested that maximum variation sampling was probablya good approach to sampling for qualitative description.

  • 06:30

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: But what even is maximum variation sampling?The name doesn't tell us a lot.Suri 2011 describes maximum variationsampling as first deciding what key dimensions of variationsexist in the population of interest,and then finding those cases that vary as much as possible.

  • 06:50

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Don't worry we'll apply this to our case in just a moment.In this type of sampling, the researchercan expect to get the perspective of a diverse groupof participants that will aid the researcher in gatheringinformation about the essential featuresin the variable features of a phenomenon as experiencedby the population of interest.

  • 07:12

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Patton 2002 describes two things in maximum variation,and these include, one, high quality, detailed descriptionsof each case, which can be used to document uniqueness.And two, important shared patterns that cut across casesand derive their significance from having emerged outof heterogeneity.

  • 07:34

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: So now, returning to our case.If we decide that we want to employmaximum variation sampling to gain participants,we might first by start thinking, well,what are those dimensions that existin our population of interest?It's going to be important to know our community.Perhaps we want to consider going into the community

  • 07:54

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: and just eyeballing to see what variation there might be.It might be appropriate to gather a sample thatis representative of community by thinking of categories,such as age, race and ethnicity, health status, gender, sex,religious affiliation, educational level, nationality,

  • 08:15

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: length of time in the community, average number of timesthe person has visited the hospital of interest,et cetera.The list can go on and on.It's up to you as the researcher to do your due diligenceand figure out how to make this population--how to represent this population in your community.How might you decide to collect this data or sample

  • 08:38

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: this data rather?It could be as simple as having individuals fill outa form that says they're interested in researchand including some demographic questions that'llhelp you decide, like wow, I've gotten an actual sampleof the community of interest.You could even potentially reach out to the hospital's researchdepartment if such a department exists, and inquire

  • 09:01

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: about people who had participated in studies beforeand have expressed interest in continuing to participatein research and asking them to screen for potential candidatesfor you.Again, there's many ways to go about this.Sandelowski 2000 tells us, and I quote,"As in any qualitative study, the ultimate goal

  • 09:21

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: of purposeful sampling, which maximum variation sampling isa part of is to obtain cases deemedinformation rich for the purposes of the study.It is the obligation of the researchersto defend their sampling strategies as reasonablefor their purposes."So you do have a lot of control.Great.You have your population, and you're

  • 09:42

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: ready to go do some qualitative descriptive research.But wait a minute, how might you collect the data?Most researchers in this space agree that minimallyto moderately open-ended interviewsand/or focus groups are probably moreappropriate for qualitative description.Sandelowski 2000 states that focus groups might even

  • 10:05

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: be viewed as the qualitative counterpartto quantitative surveys as they are a wayto get a lot of information about the topic of interest.You might also collect data via documents and artifactsas well.So, don't forget those.So let's apply this to our case.Let's go ahead and go with a focus group.

  • 10:26

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: That just feels right for this type of research.First, we might ask the wellness programto provide us with all the marketingmaterials and educational training materialsas they're willing to share so wecan begin to collect our data.We're probably going to do an artifact analysis first.And with that artifact analysis, we're

  • 10:46

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: really going to just describe what we see.Then we could schedule with our participants a daythat works for them in order to do the focus groups.When I personally have conducted focus groups,I've generally kept the number between three to fiverelatively small so that everyone in the groupcould have an opportunity to speak.

  • 11:08

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: We know that there's sometimes a few quieter people thatmay have some hesitancy to speak in larger groups,particularly when we have someone that is well outspoken.I generally have a team with me to assist.And my team consist of a scribe, somebodythat can take notes via laptop, as well as a person whoseresponsibility it is to run the audio visual recording

  • 11:31

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: equipment.Materials I would take with me are generally pen and paperboth for myself, my research assistants,and the participants because sometimes theymight want to write down the questionsand think about them a bit before they start to answer.I'm also a big fan of taking snacksdepending on the time of day or even perhaps a meal.

  • 11:53

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: This is, of course, not required,but it does go a long way to buildinga very relaxed environment where people feelfree to express themselves.As I begin the research, I usuallystart by introducing myself and all the members of the researchteam, the purpose of the study, as well as obtain consentfrom the participants.

  • 12:14

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: After all, remember, this is human subjects research,and you'll have to have approval for it.And then I commence with the questions.From there, I let the conversation flow naturallyamong the participants, taking care not to allow myselfor the research team interject with opinions, advice,

  • 12:34

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: solutions to the problems, or anything else.Remember, we're just there to collect the data.We're the researchers, not the participants.Once the group is done, and all the questions havebeen answered, and I feel as though we'vegotten the information we've needed from them,I thank them for their time, provide themwith my office email and our office phone number

  • 12:55

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: so that if they have any questionsor want to follow up after the study, they can do so.And then that's it.We're done.I make it sound a lot easier than it probably is.You're going to get a lot of data.I will keep doing focus groups until I feel like there's notany new information that's coming from them basedon the questions, or this is also called data saturation.

  • 13:18

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: Now, it's time to analyze.It's generally accepted that qualitative content analysisis the analysis procedure of choicefor qualitative descriptive studies.Well, I won't go into an in depth stepby step how to perform a qualitative analysis.In this conversation, I would like to give you at least

  • 13:39

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: the following considerations.One, Shearer suggests that qualitative content analysishelps us to reduce the data and is very flexible.When you get into those focus groupsand get people to talking, you aregoing to get so much rich data that you couldfind yourself overwhelmed.So, content analysis helps you to boil it down to its basics

  • 14:01

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: and make the data a little bit more manageable for you.This analysis technique, unlike other qualitative methods,is pretty straightforward.Sandelowski 2000 suggest that the goal of this analysisprocedure will be to summarize the informational contentsof the data, not to create themes

  • 14:22

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: and not again to interpret the data.Qualitative analysis-- qualitativecontent analysis also allows from some useof descriptive statistics such as mean, median, mode,standard deviation, which might be helpful to youin understanding the data a little more.And in Hseih and Shannon in 2005 comment

  • 14:44

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: that qualitative content analysis is not a one-noteand the researcher should take careto find the qualitative content analysis procedurethat best fits the data.They propose there are three distinct qualitative contentanalysis procedures, including conventional, directive,and summative.

  • 15:04

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: I encourage anyone who is interestedin qualitative description to check outthose references I just gave you for more on qualitative contentanalysis.OK, folks, so we've analyzed their datausing a conventional qualitative content analysis.Now the only thing left to do is decide how to represent

  • 15:25

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: or, as Sandelowski 2000 says, represent the data.Nergard 2009 and Sandelowski 2000again suggest that a straightforward presentationof the data provides comprehensive descriptivesummaries, and accurate details is in order here.Sandelowski 2000 further explains

  • 15:46

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: that however you choose to represent or representthe data, it has to make sense to the data.For example, you might choose to represent your datachronologically if that makes sense,or you may choose to represent it from most prevalent contentfeature to least prevalent.In this case, let's just call those themes,

  • 16:07

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: although themes are a little bit different than whatwe've done in our analysis.From our data, I might suggest that weuse a prevalent to least prevalent occurring sentiment.So what does that mean?I might decide to look in the data from the analysisand see what do most people feel about the current offerings

  • 16:27

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: of that hospital that we're studying.And if they're-- like I might do it from the positivesto the negatives, or I may even separate the data into positivesentiments and negative sentiments and present themin the most occurring or most frequently occurring sentimentto the least frequently occurring sentiment.And now, my favorite part personally is dissemination.

  • 16:50

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: And that's it.So we get to decide how we want to get that data out there,whether we're doing a platform presentation, posterpresentation, publication, or all of the above,the most important thing is get the data outthere so it can be used by the populations that need it most.I also personally, outside of our scholarly journals,

  • 17:12

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: like to go back to the community and give them the dataas well in some kind of a presentation that'smore appropriate for them, kind of gettingrid of some of the research jargonand getting really down to a straightforward descriptionagain of what's going on.Probably the most important thing that you dois going to be the dissemination, especially

  • 17:34

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: in that community.Remember, the ultimate goal probably for our case studyis that we want those folks participating in that healthand wellness classes because they're free and couldmake a possible really big impact in their healthin a good way.Well, time to wrap it up.We've actually conducted our study.

  • 17:55

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: I wish it was that short.But as all qualitative researchersknow that you're going to take a few months to digthrough your data.Transcription alone is going to take you a few weeks.And you know what you're going to do?You're going to learn so much about the informationthat you've collected that you'llbecome an expert in the topic.And so, I say enjoy the process.

  • 18:17

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: It's really quite fun when you getto sit with your transcripts and listen to the peopleby way of reading speak to you and answer that question thatallows you to go back in and help a community in need,or whatever you decide to study.I hope this short introduction to qualitative descriptionpiques your interest in it as well as other qualitative

  • 18:38

    SHATONDA JONES [continued]: methodologies.There is a wealth of information out there,And I hope that you get an opportunity to go outthere and learn more about qualitative research.I've enjoyed talking to you, and I wish you all the bestin your research endeavors.

  • 19:05



Shatonda Jones, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Rockhurst University, discusses qualitative description, including online interviews, sampling, and the collection, analysis, representation, and dissemination of data.

Looks like you do not have access to this content.

Using Qualitative Description in Health Research

Shatonda Jones, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Rockhurst University, discusses qualitative description, including online interviews, sampling, and the collection, analysis, representation, and dissemination of data.

Copy and paste the following HTML into your website