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The process of analyzing qualitative data, unlike that of analyzing quantitative data, is more ambiguous and open to interpretation.  Indeed, while quantitative data is analyzed with established statistical methods, and the results are often times more intuitive in that they involve numbers.

Qualitative data, on the other hand, does not have an established methodology.  This is because the format and type of research is dependent on questions and words.  The usual procedure to measure qualitative data and analyze qualitative data is through examining individuals’ responses to questions.  By picking out words and concepts that are used often, the analysis focuses on the number of times and the intensity of responses that arise to certain questions.

There are different ways to analyze qualitative responses dependent on the methodology.  In ethnographic research, the analysis usually depends on intensive interviews of several individuals to bring out key themes and concepts that emerge from different people’s stories.  The second main methodology is grounded theory.

Grounded theory, unlike ethnography, is not focused on the intense interviews associated with several people; rather, it is the analysis of answers given to several questions associated around a theme.  The theory posits that the concept of “patient awareness” should be analyzed through responses of several questions.  Finally, the theory of phenomenological focuses on individual perceptions of a certain phenomenon: questions focus on how the individual reacted to certain stimuli through various qualitative methodologies.

Overall, while qualitative methods may be different, they provide a different perspective on how to answer questions regarding issues such as patient engagement.

Source:

Qualitative Methods. Available at: http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualmeth.php.