Critically appraising qualitative research: A guide for clinicians more familiar with quantitative techniques
Papers using qualitative methods are increasingly common in psychiatric journals. This overview is an introduction to critically appraising a qualitative paper for clinicians who are more familiar with quantitative methods. Qualitative research uses data from interviews (semi-structured or unstructured), focus groups, observations or written materials. Data analysis is inductive, allowing meaning to emerge from the data, rather than the more deductive, hypothesis centred approach of quantitative research. This overview compares and contrasts quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative concepts such as reliability, validity, statistical power, bias and generalisability have qualitative equivalents. These include triangulation, trustworthiness, saturation, reflexivity and applicability. Reflexivity also shares features of transference. Qualitative approaches include: ethnography, action-assessment, grounded theory, case studies and mixed methods. Qualitative research can complement quantitative approaches. An understanding of both is useful in critically appraising the psychiatric literature.