Are we ready to accept the challenge? Addressing the shortcomings of contemporary qualitative health research

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BACKGROUND: Qualitative approaches represent an important contributor to health care research. However, several researchers argue that contemporary qualitative research does not live up to its full potential. By presenting a snapshot of contemporary qualitative research in the field of social and administrative pharmacy, this study challenges contributors to the field by asking: Are we ready to accept the challenge and take qualitative research one step further?

PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to initiate a constructive dialogue on the need for increased transparency in qualitative data analysis, including explicitly reflecting upon theoretical perspectives affecting the research process.

METHODS: Content analysis was used to evaluate levels of theoretical visibility and analysis transparency in selected qualitative research articles published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy between January 2014 and January 2015.

MAIN FINDINGS: In 14 out of 21 assessed papers, the use of theory was found to be Seemingly Absent (lowest level of theory use), and the data analyses did not include any interpretive endeavors. Only two papers consistently applied theory throughout the entire study and clearly took the data analyses from a descriptive to an interpretive level. It was found that the aim of the majority of assessed papers was to change or modify a given practice, which however, resulted in a lack of both theoretical underpinnings and analysis transparency.

CONCLUSION: This study takes the standpoint that theory and high-quality analysis go hand-in-hand. Based on the content analysis, articles that were deemed to be high in quality were explicit about the theoretical framework of their study and transparent in how they analyzed their data. It was found that theory contributed to the transparency of how the data were analyzed and interpreted. Two ways of improving contemporary qualitative research in the field of social and administrative pharmacy are discussed: engaging with social theory and establishing close collaboration with social scientists.

Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)332–338
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017

ID: 162119429