Qualitative research is used to explore and understand people’s beliefs, experiences, attitudes, behaviour and interactions. It generates non- numerical data, e.g. a patient’s description of their pain rather than a measure of pain. In health care, qualitative techniques have been commonly used in research documenting the experience of chronic illness and in studies about the functioning of organisations. Qualitative research techniques such as focus groups and in-depth interviews have been used in one-off projects commissioned by guideline development groups to find out more about the views and experiences of patients and carers.
Qualitative research or methodology does not try to quantify anything or use statistical methods – it’s not about counting, but about words and their meaning.
It provides information about the “human” side of an issue – behaviours, beliefs, opinions, emotions, and relationships of individuals. The most common method used to generate data in qualitative research is an interview which may be structured, semi-structured or unstructured. Focus groups and case studies are other examples.
Quantitative research generates numerical data or data that can be converted into numbers, for example clinical trials or the National Census, which counts people and households.
A quantitative approach is more logical and data-led and provides a measure of what people think from a statistical and numerical point of view. It is used to quantify the problem by way of generating numerical data or data that can be transformed into useable statistics.
A quasi-experiment is an observational study in which the subjects to be observed are not randomly assigned to different groups in order to measure outcomes, as in a randomized experiment, but grouped according to a characteristic that they already possess