Skip to main content

The Social Sciences


Research methods commonly used in social sciences are appropriate for studies of how people deal with “risk” and for studies of risk communication. These approaches can be applied to understanding and appraising risk communications about medicines. This chapter reviews appropriateness and potential of social science research methods for this purpose, focusing on:

  • qualitative studies (e.g. of experiences of a risk communication, or to create a theoretical conceptualisation or model of a risk communication);

  • surveys for studying prevalence (e.g. of health behaviours or attitudes) and correlations (e.g. between communication types and health behaviours);

  • (quasi-)experimental studies and intervention trials (for measuring effects of planned risk communication interventions); and

  • mixed-method studies (combining features of the above designs).

The chapter explains the main features of these methods; discusses their strengths and limitations; considers examples; and makes suggestions for applying the methods effectively to improve the evidence base on risk communication about medicines. The chapter emphasises the distinctly different types of research question that are appropriate for each of these research designs.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-981-15-3013-5_8
  • Chapter length: 47 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-981-15-3013-5
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Hardcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Fig. 8.1
Fig. 8.2
Fig. 8.3
Fig. 8.4
Fig. 8.5
Fig. 8.6
Fig. 8.7


Studies included in the review are indicated by an asterisk (∗).

Download references


The authors would like to acknowledge the support of Mrs. Joanne Knox and Miss Janice McQuilkin, Assistant Subject Librarians; Dr. Patricia Carlisle, Associate Lecturer; and Miss Mabel Stevenson, Research Assistant, all of Ulster University, Northern Ireland, who assisted with the literature review that underpins this chapter.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Brian J. Taylor .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd.

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Taylor, B.J., Moorhead, S.A. (2020). The Social Sciences. In: Bahri, P. (eds) Communicating about Risks and Safe Use of Medicines. Adis, Singapore.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Adis, Singapore

  • Print ISBN: 978-981-15-3012-8

  • Online ISBN: 978-981-15-3013-5

  • eBook Packages: MedicineMedicine (R0)