Quantitative or qualitative approaches can be used to attain research objectives. Quantitative research appraises data to allow the generalization of the outcomes of a sample to a large population (Polit & Beck, 2012). The purpose of this paper is to compare information regarding the management of oncology pain as depicted by a quantitative and qualitative study. The benefits and shortcomings of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies are also discussed.
Information Gained from the Studies
McPherson, Hadjistavropoulos, Devereaux, and Lobchuk (2014) use a qualitative approach to show the roles of older patients and their caregivers in the management of cancer pain. It is shown that communication of pain and finding solutions are the main roles of these two groups. These findings highlight the barriers and misconceptions in the management of cancer pain. Conversely, Wells, McDowell, Hendricks, Dietrich, and Murphy (2010) use a quantitative approach to explain the associations among physicians, nurse practitioners, nurse knowledge, recording of evaluations, treatment, and pain alleviation in cancer patients. There was no correlation between the documentation of pain and treatment outcomes.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
Qualitative research helps scholars to gauge the strength of the collected information and determine its relevance to the research problem (Ryan-Nicholls & Will, 2009). Qualitative research is flexible, which makes it possible to evaluate unexpected data and varied opinions of the participants. However, the main disadvantage of qualitative research is the likelihood of bias due to the emotional attachment that may occur when the researcher and the respondent interact. Furthermore, the precision of qualitative data is determined by the effectiveness of the communication dexterities of the investigator and the respondents. Poor communication and obscure the resultant data. Another shortcoming of qualitative research is that the findings obtained in a given setting may not be generalizable to the entire population.
The main strength of quantitative research is that it is possible to control the research setting, hence ensuring that the outcomes are linked to specific variables under investigation. Quantitative research produces numeric data that can undergo statistical manipulation, analysis, and interpretation. However, qualitative investigations require vast resources in terms of time and finances. Another disadvantage is that the validity and reliability of findings from quantitative investigations are influenced by the size of the sample. Consequently, researchers must use large samples to generate findings that can apply to the rest of the population.
Is Qualitative Research Science?
Contentions that qualitative research is not an actual science have led to the labeling of the research approach as a pseudoscience (Ritchie, Lewis, Nicholls, & Ormston, 2013). Presently, quantitative studies, particularly randomized controlled trials (RCT) are used as gold standards for finding evidence-based data in the medical arena (Stevens, 2013). Therefore, research evidence from these studies is classified as Level II for a single RCT and Level I for systematic reviews of several RCTs. In contrast, studies that use qualitative methods have a lower evidence rating of Level VI. Nevertheless, qualitative studies unravel valuable aspects of human behavior and thinking, which cannot be obtained through quantitative means. This information improves the knowledge concerning specific topics such as patient preferences, which enhances the quality of patient care and outcomes. Therefore, qualitative research is a science that should not be considered inferior to quantitative research. Both approaches complement each other in the generation of scientific knowledge.
Quantitative and qualitative studies provide useful information about pain management in cancer patients. The quantitative study shows that there is no relationship between pain assessment and treatment. Conversely, the qualitative study indicates that patients and their caregivers play a vital role in the expression of pain and the management of the discomfort. Therefore, quantitative and qualitative researches supplement each other and are valuable in evidence-based practice and the creation of knowledge.
McPherson, C. J., Hadjistavropoulos, T., Devereaux, A., & Lobchuk, M. M. (2014). A qualitative investigation of the roles and perspectives of older patients with advanced cancer and their family caregivers in managing pain in the home. BMC Palliative Care,13(1), 1-14. Web.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2012). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. London: Sage Publishers.
Ryan-Nicholls, K., & Will, C. (2009). Rigour in qualitative research: Mechanisms for control. Nurse Researcher, 16(3), 70-85. Web.
Stevens, K. (2013). The impact of evidence-based practice in nursing and the next big tensions and appreciating the complementarities. The Qualitative Report, 17(34), 1-19.
Wells, N., Mcdowell, M. R., Hendricks, P., Dietrich, M. S., & Murphy, B. (2010). Cancer pain management in ambulatory care: Can we link assessment and action to outcomes? Supportive Care in Cancer,19(11), 1865-1871. Web.