Qualitative Inquiry: An End Not Just a Means

  • Margaret E. Bentley
  • Elizabeth E. Tolley
  • Willo Pequegnat


While culture is both complex and multifaceted, it is important to examine health behaviors and outcomes within a particular sociocultural setting. Culture can best be described through in-depth, ethnographic research or through qualitative methods. Qualitative inquiry is both a means and an end in conducting research. You can use it to learn about the meaning of knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in order to design a prevention program or as a primary aim to describe a group of people and the context in which they exhibit behaviors. This chapter is intended to provide a diverse group of researchers with some “basics” related to the process of qualitative research, including an overview of types of qualitative research and methods, the importance of identifying a theoretical framework, and systematic research design, which should guide the choice of methods. A detailed discussion of qualitative data management and analysis is provided, as this is often the least understood part of qualitative research and the section of a grant proposal that is least developed and described. The chapter provides a starting point for understanding how qualitative methods can be used in health research and in preparing a grant proposal that incorporates qualitative research.


Qualitative Research Textual Data Formative Research Qualitative Researcher Pregnancy Intention 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret E. Bentley
    • 1
  • Elizabeth E. Tolley
  • Willo Pequegnat
  1. 1.Department of NutritionUNC Gillings School of Global Public HealthChapel HillUSA

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