Integrating qualitative research into evidence based practice.
This article attempts to provide an overview of qualitative tools and methods using mainly examples from diabetes research. The other articles in this issue of the Endocrinology and Metabolism Clinics of North America have demonstrated the enormous contribution made in the past 15 years or so by rigorous quantitative studies of prevalence, diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy to clinical decision-making in endocrinology. In the early 21st century, the state of qualitative research into such topics as the illness experience of diabetes; the barriers to effective self care and positive health choices; the design of complex educational interventions; the design of appropriate, acceptable and responsive health services; and the decision-making behavior of health professionals, is such that there remain many more questions than answers. But qualitative research is increasingly recognized as an important, legitimate and expanding dimension of evidence-based health care (18;19). It is highly likely that the major landmark studies in diabetes care over the next decade will build on an exploratory qualitative study or incorporate an explanatory or evaluative dimension based on qualitative methods.