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The use and value of qualitative methods in health research in developing countries


  • Yach, Derek


Qualitative and quantitative research methods for public health were integrated in the past. Work at the Polela Health Center and the Institute of Family and Community Health (South Africa) in the 1940's epitomized how true integration was possible. Since the 1950's the growth of disciplines and boundaries between them; the growing emphasis by funding agencies on quantitative research that yields results rapidly at low cost and the dominance of the medical profession in public health together resulted in a separation of approaches. Recently, recognition of the need for integrated approaches has reemerged but the capacity to conduct appropriate research in developing countries is weak and they have relied on importing both researchers and their methods. Examples are given (mainly using focus group methods) of how innovative integrated approaches in developing countries have been used to implement community diagnoses, understand factors affecting health service utilization and identify factors amenable to intervention. It is concluded that while qualitative methods are needed (and used) in developing countries, their use will only increase if appropriate training initiatives in developing countries are undertaken.

Suggested Citation

  • Yach, Derek, 1992. "The use and value of qualitative methods in health research in developing countries," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 35(4), pages 603-612, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:35:y:1992:i:4:p:603-612

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    Cited by:

    1. World Bank, 2006. "Timor-Leste Health Sector Review : Appendices," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14898, The World Bank.
    2. Lindelow, Magnus & Serneels, Pieter, 2006. "The performance of health workers in Ethiopia: Results from qualitative research," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(9), pages 2225-2235, May.
    3. World Bank, 2006. "Timor-Leste Health Sector Review : Meeting Challenges and Improving Health Outcomes," World Bank Other Operational Studies 14897, The World Bank.
    4. repec:eee:ijrema:v:30:y:2013:i:1:p:83-97 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Hentschel, Jesko, 1998. "Distinguishing between types of data and methods of collecting them," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1914, The World Bank.


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