Research, by definition, is a scientific approach to describe and investigate phenomena. In the field of nursing, research plays a substantial role in the practice of safe and ethical nursing practice, thus a term called evidence-based nursing practice has been introduced in the profession. Nursing research involves the use of qualitative and quantitative research designs. Qualitative research typically aims to understand and interpret social interactions through open-ended responses, survey, interviews, participant observations, field notes and reflections. This type of design follows an inductive pattern whereby theories and assumptions are generated based on the responses, reflections or interactions of the respondents in the study. This design is conceptualized based on the premise the human behaviors are dynamic and there are multiple realities in every phenomenon. Due to its individualistic approach, qualitative research designs pose a high degree of subjectivity or bias on the part of the researcher. Quantitative research, on the other hand, intends to test hypotheses, generate predictions and investigate causality in a phenomenon. Data is obtained through close-ended survey questionnaire and interview. Results obtained include numerical and statistical data. This design is used based on the premise that phenomenon is structured and predictable, thus a high degree of objectivity of results is obtained from this design.
The choice and use of a research design is discretionary on the part of researcher and variable on the phenomenon being investigated and the characteristics of the subjects/respondents involved in the investigation. Nursing advocates and nurses, however, have recently recommended using both qualitative and quantitative approach in their evidence-based practice – a method known as triangulation. The use of multi-method approach in research, such as triangulation, researchers can have more confidence in their respective studies due to increased validity and reliability. In the nursing profession, the concepts of validity and reliability are significant to ensure that safe and evidence-based practice are carried out by majority of the nurses and delivered to the greater number of clientele – the patients. Further, the use of both methods in research (i.e., qualitative and quantitative) is also advantageous on obtaining concrete and objective results taking into account the individual’s responses or reactions to the study he/she is part of. Thus, the balance between subjectivity and objectivity as posited by the two research designs can further enhance both the scientific and humanistic components in nursing research.
Albeit advantageous on increasing the reliability and validity of nursing research, the use of both designs however also poses detrimental effects most especially among the respondents/subjects in the research. Some of the disadvantages sought on the use of this multi-modal approach in nursing research are ethical considerations on the approach’s application. Privacy issues and breach of confidentiality are some of the issues that a researcher faces on the conduct of qualitative and quantitative nursing research (Robley, 1995). The use of data collection procedures such as interviews may pose a significant threat to the patient while coping with the disease process, thus may potentially aggravate his/her condition.
In line of this, a careful implementation of qualitative and quantitative nursing research should be carried out by all involve in the profession. This can be ensured by providing a safe and psychologically nurturing milieu to the patients as they participate in a study. Privacy concerns and confidentiality of patient’s responses can be assured through the provision of informed consent and therapeutic communication to the patients and the members of the research team – taking into account the welfare of the most valuable part of the study – the patients.
Robley, L. R. (1995). The ethics of qualitative nursing research. Journal of Professional Nursing, 11(1), 45-48.