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Contextuality and data collection methods: A framework and application to health service utilisation


  • Jesko Hentschel


This article examines the role of different data collection methods, including the data types they produce, in the analysis of social phenomena in developing countries. It points out that one of the confusing factors surrounding the quantitative-qualitative debate in the literature is that methods and data are not clearly separated. The article retains the qualitative/quantitative distinction pertaining to data types but analyses methods according to their contextuality, that is, to what degree they attempt to understand human behaviour within the social, cultural, economic and political environment of a locality. The framework is applied to characterise information needs for health planning derived from the utilisation of health services. Each combination of method (contextual/non-contextual) and data (quantitative/qualitative) is a primary and unique source to fulfil different information requirements. The article finds three roles contextual methods of data collection can play in generating information needs for understanding health utilisation patterns. It concludes with a brief discussion on how contextual and non-contextual methods can — and need to be - formally linked to understand more fully the comparative strengths of the different methods.

Suggested Citation

  • Jesko Hentschel, 1999. "Contextuality and data collection methods: A framework and application to health service utilisation," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 35(4), pages 64-94.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jdevst:v:35:y:1999:i:4:p:64-94
    DOI: 10.1080/00220389908422581

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael Bamberger, 2000. "Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Research in Development Projects," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 15253.
    2. Mendoza Alcantara, Alejandra & Woolcock, Michael, 2014. "Integrating qualitative methods into investment climate impact evaluations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7145, The World Bank.
    3. Claire Gondard-Delcroix, 2003. "Les analyses qualitatives de la pauvreté : continuité ou rupture ?," Documents de travail 81, Groupe d'Economie du Développement de l'Université Montesquieu Bordeaux IV.
    4. Hentschel, Jesko & Waters, William F., 2002. "Rural Poverty in Ecuador: Assessing Local Realities for the Development of Anti-poverty Programs," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 33-47, January.
    5. Shaffer, Paul, 2013. "Ten Years of “Q-Squared”: Implications for Understanding and Explaining Poverty," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 269-285.

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