1. How to chose a qualitative method?


We so far identified 4 types of QRM suitable for the KCE research projects useful to describe in a first report: interviewing (individually or in focus groups), observing and structuring discussions among experts with a Delphi survey. Others should be developed in the future.

Before entering in the practical aspect of each method, we will briefly describe them in order to give some guidance to choose the most appropriate one.

  1. Semi-structured individual interview aims at searching for data through questioning the respondent using conversational techniques, “…being shaped partly by the interviewer’s pre-existing topic guide and partly by concerns that are emergent in the interview.” (Bloor and Wood, 2006, p. 104). “It gives the opportunity to the respondents to tell their own stories in they own words” (Bowling, 1997, p. 336). The use of such a method in the KCE context is appropriate when the aim is to identify different point of views, beliefs, attitudes, experience of people such patients, practitioners, stakeholders, etc. when no interaction between the respondents is required or appropriate (according to the topic for example). It could also be chosen because of practical reasons, e.g. when participants are not easily ‘displaceable’, or lack time.
  2. Focus groups is a form of semi-structured interview. It consists on “a series of group discussions held with differently composed groups of individuals and facilitated by a researcher, were the aim is to provide data (via the capture of intra-group interaction) on groups beliefs and group norms in respect of a particular topic or set of issues” (Bloor and Wood, 2006, p. 88). This is useful “where we need interactivity to enhance brainstorming among the participants, gain insights and generate ideas in order to pursue a topic in greater depth” (Bowling, 1997, p 352). Focus groups ‘”worked well and provide the richest data in relation to public’s view of priorities for health services and (…) were less inhibiting for respondent that one-to-one interviews (Bowling, 1997, p. 354).
  3. Observation is useful to understand more than people say about (complex) situations (Bowling, 1997). In the KCE context, it will be useful for site visits, when preparing a report on a hospital or a health service, a procedure, etc.
  4. The Delphi survey aims to achieve consensus or define positions among experts panelists, through iterations of anonymous opinions and of proposed compromise statements from the group moderator (Bloor and Wood, 2006). For KCE reports, this method could be useful for setting priorities, clarify acceptability of a new technology or system or innovations.
Figure 1 – Decision tree to chose between the methods proposed in this report
Decision tree