Aggregation of qualitative studies--From theory to practice: Patient priorities and family medicine/general practice evaluations.
ABSTRACT Aggregation (i.e., meta-ethnography or meta-synthesis) of qualitative studies remains relatively rare and controversial. We have attempted this procedure within an investigation of patient priorities and evaluations of primary care in order to triangulate an instrument development process as well as explore associated dilemmas.
The procedures included a literature search of qualitative research on patient priorities and evaluations and creation of a framework for quality assessment of retrieved papers. The tool for the evaluation of quality in qualitative studies was piloted, refined, and applied to the retrieved literature. The articles were equally distributed between two teams in random fashion, and inter-rater agreement calculated. Finally, we formulated and applied a strategy for aggregation of data from included papers that allowed comparison to a systematic review of quantitative studies on the topic.
Thirty-seven articles met inclusion criteria. Twenty-four of these articles were of sufficient quality to be included in the qualitative aggregation. Inter-rater agreement ranged from 0.22 to 0.77 and 0.38 to 0.60 for pair and assessor comparisons, respectively. The aggregation strategy enabled synthesis within sub-categories of the heterogeneous papers.
We have devised a modestly reliable instrument to assess the quality of qualitative work. The procedure for quality assessment and aggregation appears to be both feasible and potentially useful, though both theoretical and practical problems underline the need for further refinement prior to widespread utilization of this approach.
An instrument to assess the quality of qualitative work within the context of aggregation efforts is described. Calculating inter-rater reliability in this framework can support future quality assessments. A method of breaking a heterogeneous collection of included papers into sub-categories to enable aggregation of qualitative studies is applied and demonstrates its feasibility and potential usefulness.
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ABSTRACT: Although the family history is increasingly used for genetic risk assessment of common chronic diseases in primary care, evidence suggests that lay understanding about inheritance may conflict with medical models. This study systematically reviewed and synthesized the qualitative literature exploring understanding about familial risk held by persons with a family history of cancer, coronary artery disease, and diabetes mellitus. Twenty-two qualitative articles were found after a comprehensive literature search and were critically appraised; 11 were included. A meta-ethnographic approach was used to translate the studies across each other, synthesize the translation, and express the synthesis. A dynamic process emerged by which a personal sense of vulnerability included some features that mirror the medical factors used to assess risk, such as the number of affected relatives. Other features are more personal, such as experience of a relative's disease, sudden or premature death, perceived patterns of illness relating to gender or age at death, and comparisons between a person and an affected relative. The developing vulnerability is interpreted using personal mental models, including models of disease causation, inheritance, and fatalism. A person's sense of vulnerability affects how that person copes with, and attempts to control, any perceived familial risk. Persons with a family history of a common chronic disease develop a personal sense of vulnerability that is informed by the salience of their family history and interpreted within their personal models of disease causation and inheritance. Features that give meaning to familial risk may be perceived differently by patients and professionals. This review identifies key areas for health professionals to explore with patients that may improve the effectiveness of communication about disease risk and management.The Annals of Family Medicine 2(6):583-94. · 4.61 Impact Factor
- BMJ (Clinical research ed.). 05/2004; 328(7446):1010-2.
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ABSTRACT: General practice uses an eclectic range of research methodology. This includes increasing reliance upon qualitative research methods. There seem to be two distinct treatments of qualitative research within primary care and, in particular, within general practice research. The first is characterized by a purely utilitarian and technical focus, using a qualitative method because it is the most appropriate means of realizing the aims of the research, while the second is characterized by in-depth engagement with the philosophical and paradigmatic aspects of qualitative methodology. In-depth engagement with methodology and theory, and theory building, is an important aspect of masterate and doctoral research within social sciences such as education and anthropology, and in the discipline of nursing, but has not been a feature of qualitative research in medicine. A practical difficulty encountered within postgraduate programmes such as the one in which the author teaches is that when innovative qualitative techniques are used by GPs in their postgraduate research dissertations and theses, it is often beyond GP examiners' own knowledge and experience, yet it fails to measure up to standards established in social sciences, particularly in sociology and anthropology where in-depth reflexive engagement with the theory and philosophy of qualitative methodology is expected. This paper suggests that the value of in-depth engagement with methodology when conducting qualitative research results in creative and innovative ways of conducting research that are consonant with the nature of general practice itself, and strengthens research findings. Therefore, as teachers of research methods and supervisors of research theses, it is important to encourage students conducting qualitative research to engage fully with theoretical and methodological issues.Family Practice 11/2002; 19(5):557-62. · 1.83 Impact Factor