Applying qualitative research to the field of nursing allows shedding light on various issues such as the nature of specific phenomena, the perception of a problem by nurses and patients, and other concerns. Qualitative research encompasses a range of methods for the analysis of key variables, which define the focus and the tools used in the process (Holly, 2013). The adoption of qualitative descriptive research and a case study are typically seen as the most common options (Dang & Dearholt, 2017). However, although the described methods may seem similar, the differences in the approaches that they suggest define the specifics of their application. While a qualitative case study implies mostly general analysis of observations and documentation, qualitative descriptive research requires a precise focus on a particular group of participants that will be studied.
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Similarly, qualitative descriptive research is quite different from the research method known as action research. In contrast to qualitative descriptive research, action research implies taking field notes while collecting the necessary data within a focus group (Holly, 2013). Therefore, it could be argued that the focus of action research is slightly narrower than the one of qualitative descriptive research (Singla, Jones, Edwards, & Kumar, 2015). Nevertheless, both approaches toward the analysis of variables require access to essential documentation and patient records to perform a comprehensive assessment of the key factors. Despite being quite similar in their basic premise of studying qualitative relationships between key variables, the existing types of qualitative research suggest different types of assessment and perspectives (Holly, 2013). Thus, the choice of a qualitative research method hinges on study objectives, types of relationships that it seeks to explore, and other factors.
Dang, D., & Dearholt, S. L. (2017). Johns Hopkins nursing evidence-based practice: Model and guidelines (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Sigma Theta Tau.
Holly, C. (Ed.). (2013). Scholarly inquiry and the DNP Capstone. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
Singla, M., Jones, M., Edwards, I., & Kumar, S. (2015). Physiotherapists’ assessment of patients’ psychosocial status: Are we standing on thin ice? A qualitative descriptive study. Manual Therapy, 20(2), 328-334. Web.