Understanding the approaches and rationale for using qualitative synthesis to support evidence-informed clinical practice
Evidence users often have queries that cannot be answered solely with quantitative data. As a result, interest in the synthesis of qualitative research has blossomed over recent decades. This type of research methodology can help answer questions such as ‘What is it like to live with a long-term condition?’, ‘Why and how did the treatment work?’ and ‘How acceptable is this test likely to be in my population?’ Such information adds a different layer of knowledge to a quantitative review, providing information on context, a more nuanced understanding of a phenomenon or by producing a new concept or theory.
The course will explore key approaches to undertaking a qualitative synthesis (e.g. meta-ethnography and thematic synthesis); sessions will be delivered by researchers who can draw on their real-world experiences of conducting such a review and their applicability to clinical practice. We will discuss issues associated with qualitative synthesis, including debates around quality and rigour and patient involvement. We will also cover how best to locate qualitative research to include in a review, delivered by a librarian with expertise in this area.
By the end of the course, students will be able to:
- Demonstrate an understanding of different approaches to synthesising qualitative research
- Identify the differences between these approaches
- Identify key processes associated with different approaches
- Select the most appropriate approach to address particular types of research questions
- Devise literature search strategies to systematically locate relevant publications
- Demonstrate an understanding of complex issues related to quality and rigour in meta-synthesis, including the role of formal critical appraisal and associated tools
- Demonstrate an awareness of reporting guidelines associated with meta-synthesis
- Explain the role of Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) in qualitative synthesis
- Demonstrate an understanding of key features of qualitative data analysis software (NVIVO) to help with managing data for a qualitative synthesis
- Develop a protocol for a qualitative synthesis
Course or Module specific academic requirements:
- An understanding of qualitative research will be assumed.
- Knowledge of systematic reviewing would be advantageous but is not essential.