Descriptive: Qualitative Research and Participants

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CHAPTER 3

Research design and methodology

3.1

INTRODUCTION

This chapter covers the research design and methodology, including sampling, population, establishing rigour during and after data collection, ethical considerations and data analysis.

3.2

RESEARCH DESIGN

Burns and Grove (2003:195) define a research design as “a blueprint for conducting a study with maximum control over factors that may interfere with the validity of the findings”. Parahoo (1997:142) describes a research design as “a plan that describes how, when and where data are to be collected and analysed”. Polit et al (2001:167) define a research design as “the researcher’s overall for answering the research question or testing the research hypothesis”.

This study focuses on the opinion of nurses on pain in patients that suffer from dementia. The research approach is non-experimental, qualitative, exploratory-descriptive and contextual.

3.2.1 Non-experimental research

According to Polit et al (2001:178), non-experimental research is used in studies whose purpose is description and where it is unethical to manipulate the independent variable. Non-experimental research is suitable for the study of people in nursing for several reasons. First, due to ethical considerations manipulation of the human variable is not acceptable because of the potential for physical or mental harm to the participants. Secondly, human characteristics are inherently not subject to experimental manipulation, 51

such as health beliefs and opinions. Thirdly, research constraints such as time, personnel and the type of participants, make non-experimental research more feasible. Lastly, qualitative studies do not interfere with the natural behaviour of participants being studied; the type of research question would not be appropriate for an experimental research (Polit et al 2001:178). In this study data were collected without introducing any treatment.

3.2.2 Qualitative research

Burns and Grove (2003:19) describe a qualitative approach as “a systematic subjective approach used to describe life experiences and situations to give them meaning”. Parahoo (1997:59) states that qualitative research focuses on the experiences of people as well as stressing uniqueness of the individual. Holloway and Wheeler (2002:30) refer to qualitative research as “a form of social enquiry that focuses on the way people interpret and make sense of their experience and the world in which they live”. Researchers use the qualitative approach to explore the behaviour, perspectives, experiences and feelings of people and emphasise the understanding of these elements.

Researchers who use this approach adopt a person-centred holistic and humanistic perspective to understand human lived experiences without focusing on the specific concepts (Field & Morse 1996:8). The researcher focused on the experiences from the participants’ perspective. In order to achieve the emic perspective, the researcher became involved and immersed in the study. The researcher’s participation in the study added to the uniqueness of data collection and analysis (Streubert & Carpenter 1999:17). Complete objectivity is impossible and qualitative methodology is not completely precise because human beings do not always act logically or predictably (Holloway & Wheeler 2002:3).

The rationale for using a qualitative approach in this research was to explore and describe the opinion of nurses on pain in patients that suffer from dementia. A qualitative approach was appropriate to capture the opinions of the nurses regarding pain in patients suffering from dementia.

This study involved three phases, namely the conceptual, narrative and interpretative 52

phases (Field & Morse 1996).

3.2.2.1 Conceptual phase

In the conceptual phase the research question namely what is the perception of nurses of pain in the elderly suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and objectives were formulated for the purpose of...
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