Qualitative methods in research on healthcare quality
- 1Lecturer in Medical Sociology, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK
- 2Professor of General Practice, Department of General Practice, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium
- 3Professor of Quality in Health Care, Clinical Governance Research & Development Unit, Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care, University of Leicester, Leicester LE5 4PW, UK
- Correspondence to: Dr C Pope, Lecturer in Medical Sociology, Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 2PR, UK;
There are no easy solutions to the problem of improving the quality of care. Research has shown how difficult it can be, but has failed to provide reliable and effective ways to change services and professional performance for the better. Much depends on the perspectives of users and the attitudes and behaviours of professionals in the context of their organisations and healthcare teams. Qualitative research offers a variety of methods for identifying what really matters to patients and carers, detecting obstacles to changing performance, and explaining why improvement does or does not occur. The use of such methods in future studies could lead to a better understanding of how to improve quality.