Qualitative Researchers Sharpen Strategies at Health Services Conference

Conference on qualitative methods in health services research

In 1998, Health Systems Research, Washington, held a conference on qualitative research in health services research.

It was cosponsored by the federal Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) (now called Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and administered by Health Systems Research (HSR). HSR, a health consulting company that works primarily with the federal government, held the conference.

Qualitative research uses interviews, site visits, focus groups, natural observations, and other descriptive information to understand relationships, behavior, or events.

Key Results

  • The conference, entitled "Qualitative Methods in Health Services Research," was held on December 4, 1998, in Rockville, Md. It brought together approximately 100 qualitative and quantitative researchers from within the field of health services research and from the basic and applied social sciences to discuss qualitative research methods, their application in health services research, and ways of improving the "quality" of qualitative research.

    The conference was comprised of five panels with five moderators, two discussants, and 14 speakers. Topics included:
    • An overview of the logic of qualitative research and the types of questions best suited to its methodology.
    • An in-depth look at qualitative research methods, highlighting four projects.
    • The identification of strategies and techniques for improving the quality and credibility of qualitative research.
    • The introduction of new software tools and methods in the basic social sciences that may be useful to the health services research and policy community.
    • The proposal of next steps for the field of qualitative research and solicited feedback from conference participants.
  • Conference proceedings were published in the December 1999 special supplement of Health Services Research and distributed to at least 4,000 subscribers. The supplement, comprised of an editorial, an introduction, and eight articles, provided insight into the nature of qualitative methods, information on specific techniques, and guidance on how to improve qualitative research. Information on this supplement may be found online.

Funding

RWJF supported the conference with a grant of $34,650 between December 1998 and December 1999.

AHCPR contributed approximately $66,778 to the conference.

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