The use of a qualitative study design in epidemiological studies is in fact viable science because it is also used to measure or discover aspects in life that are immeasurable. Things that cannot be quantified yet they are to be assessed scientifically using research methodology, imply that the only tool that a scientist can in fact employ is a qualitative study design. Just like the quantitative study design employs the ratio and interval scales to measure events in a study, the qualitative design employs the ordinal scale or the nominal scales to measure events in any study. Therefore, it is not true to claim that a quantitative design “is not real science.” In addition, several studies have employed qualitative study designs because there are situations that call for such a design in preference to the quantitative design. This paper seeks to give instances of such situations where each is preferred.
In a study to try and determine the efficiency of using isoniazid (INH) in the treatment of latent tuberculosis, Lobue and Menzies (2010) carried out an experimental study. This study involved the use of isoniazid in patients that have been classified to be at risk of the exposure, in this case latent tuberculosis. Two tests were primarily used to classify these participants and they included tuberculin skin test (TST) and interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA). This study is termed a quantitative study design because it is actually based on the quantitative data that can be manipulated statistically. In fact, the data inferences are achieved best using the inferential statistics to test the impact on populations using the estimation or hypothesis testing aspect. This study is relevant to the nursing field in the sense that it confirms that despite being the usual drug for treating latent TB, isoniazid is an effective treatment as proposed by the longitudinal quantitative research study.
On the other hand, van den Boogaard et al. (2012) carried out a qualitative study in order to determine whether or not patients understand the importance of adhering to TB treatments in the management of latent TB. This study involves the use of interviews in the cohort studies in order to ascertain as to whether they understand it or not. The cohort study involved the use of a coding scheme normally used in interviews in order to group and rank the responses that the participants were going to give back as answers to the questions asked. This study design was in fact helpful in making conclusions based on data that is otherwise not quantitative or numerical in form. This depicts further that research is not about quantitative or qualitative designs only but the selection of the best study design to be used at that particular time.
In summary, the use of a quantitative design or a qualitative design for that matter is all based on the decision of the researcher. This decision however is informed by several other aspects as to which type of data is to be collected. This for instance might be qualitative or quantitative data which calls for qualitative and quantitative study designs respectively. The type of data in truth affects the study design as mentioned earlier and given that a researcher has an equal chance of employing a quantitative design or qualitative in research. This only favors and supports the fact that a research, whether using any of the mentioned study design is scientific.
Van den Boogaard, J., Msoka, E., Homfray, M., Kibiki, G. S., Heldens, J. J. H. M (2012). An Exploration of Patient Perceptions of Adherence to Tuberculosis treatment in Tanzania. Qualitative Health Research 22(6): 835-845. DOI: 10.1177/1049732312438968.
Lobue, P., & Menzies, D. (2010). Treatment of latent tuberculosis infection: An update. Respirology, 15(4), 603-622. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1843.2010.01751.x