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Quantitative and Qualitative Nursing Research

In nursing research, qualitative methods aim for understanding, interpreting, and describing various phenomena. Beliefs, opinions, feelings, emotions, and contexts compose the research focus, while data is collected as felt by the respondents or a researcher (Kalu, 2017). Compared to the qualitative methods, quantitative research seeks to build and explore causal or correlational relationships to test hypotheses, using statistics (Cathala & Moorley, 2018). The primary purpose of qualitative research is to gather objective data and break it down to identify and explain any connections. Among the data collection ways of qualitative studies, there are interviews, focus groups, and field observations, but questionnaires, tests, and surveys are quantitative methods.

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In quantitative research, data analysis methods refer to the facts that represent the selected phenomena, while qualitative data analysis methods integrate subjective information and empirical abstracts to interpret data (Cathala & Moorley, 2018). Another difference is that quantitative analysis is often performed during data collection, but qualitative analysis is done after it (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). On the contrary to qualitative data analysis that uses case studies, narrative and historical methods, a grounded theory, and phenomenological studies, quantitative methods involve cross-sectional, longitudinal, prospective, cohort, quasi-experimental, comparative, and exploratory types (Kalu, 2017; Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). Thus, it is critical to understand the differences between qualitative and quantitative methods to conduct proper analysis and chose a relevant approach to study phenomena.

Qualitative research question: How can maternal background of depression and anxiety impact the mental health of their children in adolescence?

Quantitative research question: In non-smoking pregnant women, who have daily exposure to second-hand smoke, is the risk of low birth weight of infants higher compared to smoking women, who have 7-8 smoking times per day?


Cathala, X., & Moorley, C. (2018). Correction: How to appraise quantitative research. Evidence-Based Nursing, 21(4), 62-62. Web.

Kalu, F. A. (2017). What makes qualitative research good research? An exploratory analysis of critical elements. International Journal of Social Science Research, 5(2), 43-56. Web.

Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 45(2), 209-212.

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