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Title: Qualitative Methods for Health Research
Authors: Green, Judith
Thorogood, Nicki
Issue Date: 2004
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Abstract: There are a number of excellent introductory textbooks available on qualitative research, so the decision to produce yet another one perhaps needs justifying. We have written this one in response to frequent requests from our students,v who are predominantly postgraduates with considerable professional experience but little prior knowledge of the social sciences. They come from almost all countries in the world, and want an introduction to qualitative methods that is sensitive to the practicalities of doing sound research on health topics in a wide variety of settings. Although the principles of research design and conduct may be the same wherever it is happening, and whatever the topic studied, clearly the practice is not. First, the context of health research may be rather different from that of general social research. It is increasingly undertaken within multi-disciplinary teams, in which the legitimacy of using qualitative ethodologies is still challenged. It is undertaken in institutional contexts (medical schools, health authorities, hospitals) in which the assumed model of research may be clinical, rather than social. Although none of this has any impact on the principles of ‘doing good research’, it does demand a particular range of skills from the researcher, including the ability to explain those principles to a wide range of collaborators and potential users, and an understanding of why the most common conflicts over issues such as research design may occur. Second, most of the social research texts on the market assume a Western setting, and it may be difficult for a reader to grasp the principles if their initial reaction is ‘But that wouldn’t work in my country!’ The first incentive for producing this text was, then, to provide an introduction to qualitative methods that used examples of health research from a number of different settings, so that we can demonstrate how key methodological issues may have different implications in different contexts. We have been aided in this task by colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who work across the world, and we have used examples from their research liberally to illustrate key points.
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