Engaging in Qualitative Research in Health

  • Nikki Kiyimba
  • Jessica Nina Lester
  • Michelle O’Reilly


This chapter introduces the reader to the core concepts of qualitative research, defining the paradigm and providing examples. The chapter introduces qualitative health research, drawing attention to some of the arguments that have been presented in the literature. This focus is on the usefulness of using qualitative approaches to examine health and healthcare.


Qualitative research Theory Health Mental health Paradigms 


  1. Bernard, H. R. (2011). Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative methods (5th ed.). Plymouth: Alta Mira Press.Google Scholar
  2. Blumer, H. (1969). Symbolic interactionism: Perspective and method. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  3. Bryman, A. (2012). Social research methods (4th ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Burr, V. (2003). Social constructionism (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Chapple, A., Ziebland, S., & McPherson, A. (2004). Stigma, shame, and blame experienced by patients with lung cancer: A qualitative study. British Medical Journal, 328, 1470.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chen, Y. Y., Shek, D., & Bu, F. F. (2011). Applications of interpretive and constructionist research methods in adolescent research: Philosophy, principles and examples. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 23(3), 129–139.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Crotty, M. (2003). The foundations of social research: Meaning and perspective in the research process. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  8. Daly, J., Willis, K., Small, R., Green, J., Welch, N., Kealy, M., & Hughes, E. (2007). A hierarchy of evidence for assessing qualitative health research. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 60, 43–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Denzin, N., & Lincoln, Y. (1994). Introduction: Entering the field of qualitative research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 1–17). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Doucet, A., & Mauthner, N. (2006). Feminist methodologies and epistemology. In C. Bryant & D. Peck (Eds.), Handbook of 21st century sociology (pp. 36–45). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  11. Fiss, O. (1994) What is feminism? (Faculty Scholarship Series, Paper 1331, pp 413–428). Yale Law School Legal Scholarship Repository.Google Scholar
  12. Fonow, M., & Cook, J. (2005). Feminist methodology: New applications in the academy and public policy. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 30(4), 2211–2236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Franklin, C. (1998). Distinctions between social constructionism and cognitive constructivism: Practice applications. In C. Franklin & P. Nurius (Eds.), Constructivism in practice: Methods and challenges (pp. 57–94). Milwaukee, WI: Families International Press.Google Scholar
  14. Fraser, S., & Robinson, C. (2003). Paradigms and philosophy. In S. Fraser, V. Lewis, S. Ding, M. Kellett, & C. Robinson (Eds.), Doing research with children and young people (pp. 59–77). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Grbich, C. (1999). Qualitative research in health: An introduction. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Green, J., & Thorogood, N. (2014). Qualitative methods for health research (3rd ed.). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  17. Gubrium, J., & Holstein, J. (2008). The constructionist mosaic. In J. Holstein & J. Gubrium (Eds.), Handbook of constructionist research (pp. 3–12). New York: Guildford.Google Scholar
  18. Harcourt, B. (2007). An answer to the question: ‘What is poststructuralism?’ (Public Law & Legal Theory Working Papers No. 156). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Law School.Google Scholar
  19. Harding, S. (1987). Introduction: Is there a feminist method. In S. Harding (Ed.), Feminism and methodology: Social science issues (pp. 1–14). Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Hesse-Biber, S., & Leavy, P. (2004). Distinguishing qualitative research. In S. Hesse-Biber & P. Leavy (Eds.), Approaches to qualitative research: A reader on theory and practice (pp. 1–17). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Kvale, S. (1992). Qualitative inquiry between scientistic evidentialism, ethical subjectivism and the free market. International Review of Qualitative Research, 1(1), 5–18.Google Scholar
  22. Lucy, N., & Mickler, S. (2008). The war on English: An answer to the question, what is postmodernism? Transformations, 16(1). Retrieved December 12, 2017 from
  23. Malagon-Maldonando, G. (2014). Qualitative research in health design. HERD: Health Environments Research & Design Journal, 7(4), 120–1340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moreira, V. (2012). From person-centered to humanistic-phenomenological psychotherapy: The contribution of Merleau-Ponty to Carl Rogers’s thought. Experiential Psychotherapies, 11(1), 48–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Morse, J. (2006). The politics of evidence. Qualitative Health Research, 16(3), 395–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Morse, J. (2010). How different is qualitative health research from qualitative research? Do we have a subdiscipline? Qualitative Health Research, 20(11), 1459–1468.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morse, J. (2012a). Qualitative health research: Creating a new discipline. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Morse, J. (2012b). Qualitative health research: Creating a new discipline. Walnut Creek, CA:LeftCoast.Google Scholar
  29. Moss, D. (2001). The roots and genealogy of humanistic psychology. In K. Schneider, J. Bugental, & J. Pierson (Eds.), Handbook of humanistic psychology (pp. 5–20). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  30. Nettleton, S. (2013). The sociology of health and illness (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. O’Reilly, M., & Kiyimba, N. (2015). Advanced qualitative research: A guide to contemporary theoretical debates. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  32. O’Reilly, M., & Parker, N. (2014). Doing mental health research with children and adolescents: A guide to qualitative methods. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. O’Reilly, M., Lester, J., & Muskett, T. (2016). Children’s claims to knowledge regarding their mental health experiences and practitioners’ negotiation of the problem. Patient Education and Counseling, [special issue], 99, 905–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ormston, R., Spencer, L., Barnard, M., & Snape, D. (2014). The foundations of qualitative research. In J. Ritchie, J. Lewis, C. McNaughton-Nicholls, & R. Ormston (Eds.), Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers (pp. 1–26). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  35. Peters, M. (2001). Poststructuralism, Marxism, and Neo-liberalism: Between theory and politics. Lanham, US: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  36. Prasad, P. (2005). Crafting qualitative research: Working in the post positivist traditions. New York: ME Sharpe.Google Scholar
  37. Rishel, C. (2007). Evidence-based prevention practice in mental health: What is it and how do we get there? American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 77(1), 153–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Robson, C., & McCarten, K. (2016). Real world research (4th ed.). West Sussex: Wiley.Google Scholar
  39. Rosenau, P. (2004). Postmodernism and the social sciences: Insights, inroads and intrusions. New Jersey: Princetown University Press.Google Scholar
  40. Smith, J. (1983). Quantitative versus qualitative research: An attempt to clarify the issue. Educational Researcher, 12(3), 6–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Soini, H., & Kronqvist, E. L. (2011). Epistemology—A tool or a stance? In H. Soini, E. L. Kronqvist, & G. Hὒber (Eds.), Epistemologies for qualitative research (pp. 5–8). Germany: Center for Qualitative Psychology.Google Scholar
  42. Starks, H., & Trinidad, S. (2007). Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. Qualitative Health Research, 17(10), 1372–1380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sullivan, C., Gibson, S., & Riley, S. (2012). Introduction and aims of the book. In C. Sullivan, S. Gibson, & S. Riley (Eds.), Doing your qualitative psychology project (pp. 1–22). London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Williamson, K. (2009). Evidence-based practice: Critical appraisal of qualitative evidence. Journal of American Psychiatric Nurses Association, 15(3), 202–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Willig, C. (2008). Introducing Qualitative Research in Psychology (2nd ed.). Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  46. Willig, C. (2013). Introducing qualitative research in psychology (3rd ed.). Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  47. Young, R., & Collin, A. (2004). Introduction: Constructivism and social constructionism in the career field. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 64, 373–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki Kiyimba
    • 1
  • Jessica Nina Lester
    • 2
  • Michelle O’Reilly
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of ChesterChesterUK
  2. 2.School of EducationIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA
  3. 3.The Greenwood Institute of Child HealthUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

Personalised recommendations