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Qualitative Methods for Health Research

Qualitative Methods for Health Research

Fourth Edition
Additional resources:

March 2018 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Packed with practical advice and research quick tips, this book is the perfect companion to your health research project. It not only explains the theory of qualitative health research so you can interpret the studies of others, but also showcases how to approach, start, maintain, and disseminate your own research. 

It will help you:

  • Understand the role of the researcher
  • Develop an effective research proposal
  • Seek ethical approval
  • Conduct interviews, observational studies, mixed methods, and web-based designs
  • Use secondary and digital sources
  • Code, manage, and analyse data
  • Write up your results

Whether you are studying public health, sports medicine, occupational therapy, nursing, midwifery, or another health discipline, the authors will be your surrogate supervisors and guide you through evaluating or undertaking any type of health research.

Part I: Principles and Approaches in Qualitative Health Research
Chapter 1: Qualitative Methodology in Health Research
What is qualitative research?

Qualitative research and evidence based practice

The orientations of qualitative research

Some assumptions about qualitative research

Chapter 2: The Role of Theory
Macro theory

Middle range theory

Theories of knowledge

Chapter 3: Developing Qualitative Research Proposals
Research questions

Selecting appropriate study designs

Pragmatic influences on research design

A qualitative approach to design

Writing a research proposal

Sampling strategies

Chapter 4: Responsibilities, Ethics and Values
Values in research

Ethical review and codes of practice

Informed consent


Responsibilities to research participants

Ethical dilemmas and conflicts

Responsibilities to yourself and co-workers

Responsibilities to commissioners and the public

Part II: Generating Data
Chapter 5: In-depth Interviews
The research interview

A word on language

Language and translation

What interviews can and can’t do

Asking questions and listening to answers

Context and data

Planning interviews

Using visual methods in interviews

Chapter 6: Group Interviews and Discussions
An overview of different kinds of groups used in qualitative research

Consensus panels

Community interviews and participatory methods

Focus group discussions

Natural groups

Advantages of using group interviews



Planning group interview studies

Chapter 7: Observational Methods
Participation and observation

Ethnography and medical anthropology

Ethnographies of medicine, health and health care

Managing fieldwork roles

Planning an ethnographic study

Rapid ethnographic methods

Using participation and observation in interviews

Non-participant observation

Chapter 8: Using Secondary Sources
Why use existing sources?

Public records

Personal documents

Mass media outputs

Research outputs

Policy reports

Material artefacts

Methodological issues in using documentary sources

Chapter 9: Qualitative Research in a Digital Age
Questions about health, health care and technology

Researching virtual sites

Recruitment on line: social media

Technology platforms as part of the context of data generation

Ethical issues in digital research

Dissemination and knowledge exchange

Part III: Managing and Analysing Data
Chapter 10: Beginning Data Analysis
Styles of analysis

Aims of analysis

Data preparation and management

Qualitative description

Thematic content analysis

Framework analysis

Reliability and validity

Computer aided qualitative analysis

Chapter 11: Developing Qualitative Analysis
Rigour is not enough

Discourse analysis

Grounded theory

Narrative analysis

Beyond talk and text

Some strategies for thinking more analytically

Generalizability and transferability

Part IV: Qualitative Research in Practice
Chapter 12: Integrating Methods, Designs and Disciplines
Rationales for mixing methods within qualitative studies

Combining qualitative and quantitative designs

Qualitative research within evaluative designs

Combining designs in practice

Developing trans-disciplinary research

Enhancing collaboration

Chapter 13: Reading, Appraising and Integrating Qualitative Research
Reading critically

Formal critical appraisal for empirical studies

Criteria in ethnography

Systematic reviews

Integrating qualitative findings


Chapter 14: Dissemination: reaching and engaging with audiences
The writing process

Writing for different audiences

Writing for health journals

Writing for social science colleagues

Practical issues to consider when writing research reports

Dissemination from collaborative projects

Communicating with non-specialist audiences


This book is the clear and extensive introduction to qualitative health research. It is useful for all under and post graduate students, and even for PhDs with quantitative background.

Kirsi Lumme-Sandt
Health Sciences, University of Tampere

A thoughtful, thorough and readable account of the history and current practice of qualitative research in health. 

Louise Keogh
Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne

An enormously helpful resource for anyone interested in interpreting and conducting qualitative health research. In addition to describing complex social theory in an easily digestible style, it also provides a practical ‘how to’ guide for all the stages of qualitative data collection, analysis and dissemination. Filled with useful examples, it brings qualitative health research to life in a way that is both engaging and highly accessible. It is a must read for students and experienced scholars alike!

Sara Cooper
School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town

This new edition of Green and Thorogood’s excellent textbook should be required reading for health professionals considering undertaking qualitative research. Along with a practical introduction to the theory and methods of qualitative research, this revised edition expands on the importance of theory for qualitative research, the use of secondary sources and digital methods in data collection and the integration of methods, disciplines and designs within research. It continues to be a core text for any qualitative methods training for students in health and related disciplines. 

Stephen Clayton
Global and Public Health, Edge Hill University

Very good basic introduction, focus on ethnography and observation as essential qual. research designs/methods. Great book also for nursing science students.

Ms Sandra Staudacher
Institute of Nursing Science, University of Basel
February 7, 2022

This is an great resource for students undertaking qualitative methods for the first time. Additionally, it provides a great go-to for those further along in their use of these methods.

Dr Stuart Miller
School of Medicine & Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London
January 5, 2022

An informative introduction to qualitative research with practical advice and real-world examples.

Mrs Marie Molloy
Dept Nursing & Primary Care Practice, Liverpool John Moores University
June 25, 2018

An excellent resource for graduate and post graduate students in health research.

Dr Elfrieda Fleischmann
Geography and research, Cedar College
September 12, 2018

Added to my reading list for three modules-like the clear writing style, and 'how to' guides-useful for both undergraduate and post graduate students

Mrs Carol Ellis
Allied Health & Medicine (Chelmsford), Anglia Ruskin University
September 24, 2019

I enjoyed reading this. Its an excellent practical book that helped organise and conduct qualitative research, safe in the knowledge that the project would be robust and credible. It also serves a s a useful reference for supervision.

Mr Brian McGowan
School of Nursing (Magee Campus), Ulster University
February 7, 2019
Key features
  • Introduces qualitative methodology and explores its relationship to health, to help students understand their own and others' methodological standpoints
  • Includes a new chapter on conducting web-based and digital research, to support distance learners and those unable to conduct in-person qualitative methods
  • The authors’ friendly tone, and the applied examples, tips, and pedagogy throughout, support students setting out to evaluate or undertake a health research project