Choose your method: A comparison of phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory

Department of Health Services, University of Washington Seattle, Seattle, Washington, United States
Qualitative Health Research (Impact Factor: 2.19). 01/2008; 17(10):1372-80. DOI: 10.1177/1049732307307031
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The purpose of this article is to compare three qualitative approaches that can be used in health research: phenomenology, discourse analysis, and grounded theory. The authors include a model that summarizes similarities and differences among the approaches, with attention to their historical development, goals, methods, audience, and products. They then illustrate how these approaches differ by applying them to the same data set. The goal in phenomenology is to study how people make meaning of their lived experience; discourse analysis examines how language is used to accomplish personal, social, and political projects; and grounded theory develops explanatory theories of basic social processes studied in context. The authors argue that by familiarizing themselves with the origins and details of these approaches, researchers can make better matches between their research question(s) and the goals and products of the study.

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