Occupational Therapy

Library of the Health Sciences

Qualitative Research:

- methods include focus groups, in-depth interviews, and reviews

- is a primarily inductive process used to formulate theory

- is more subjective: describes a problem or condition from the point of view of those experiencing it

- contains more in-depth information on a few cases

- does not contain statistical tests

- validity and reliability largely depends on skill and rigor of the researcher

- time expenditure lighter on the planning end and heavier on the analysis phase

- less generalizable

Taken from: Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education

Using the Best Terminology

Look for these terms to help you determine whether research has a qualitative methodology:


Biographical Method                              Life Experiences

Case Studies                                         Narrative

Ethnography                                          Observational Method

Field Study                                             Thematic Analysis

Focus Group                                          Phenominology

Grounded Theory                                  Phenomenological Research

Lived Experience


Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods
UND Chester Fritz CFL Floor 2 Reference  H61 .S234 2008

Please note this book is located at the Chester Fritz Library.


In CINAHL, here are two strategies to try (these strategies are courtesy of HealthLinks at the University of Washington)

Experiment with related CINAHL subject headings such as Focus Groups, Narratives, Interviews (explode Interviews to include Semi-Structured Interview, Structured Interview, Unstructured Interview), Descriptive Research, Descriptive Statistics, Audiorecording, Videorecording, Diaries, Observational Methods (explode to include Non-Participant Observation, Participant Observation, Structured Categories, Unstructured Categories), Projective Techniques (explodes to include Pictorial Methods, Verbal Projective Techniques), Vignettes, etc.

Textwords are a little more tricky. If you add an astericks * near the end of the word if it has multiple endings, you will capture all endings.

qualitative, ethnograph*, phenomenol*, ethnonurs*, grounded theor*, purposive sample, hermeneutic*, heuristic*, semiotics, lived experience*, narrative*, life experiences, cluster sample, action research, observational method, content analysis, thematic analysis, constant comparative method, field stud*, theoretical sample, discourse analysis, focus group*, ethnological research, ethnomethodolog*, interview*.


In PubMed, the following strategies can be used:
Use appropriate Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms in your search, such as:
Qualitative Research research that derives data from observation, interviews, or verbal interactions and focuses on the meanings and interpretations of the participants.

Interviews as Topic conversations with an individual or individuals held in order to obtain information about their background and other personal biographical data, their attitudes and opinions, etc. It includes school admission or job interviews. Year introduced: 2008 (1980)]

Focus Groups a method of data collection and a qualitative research tool in which a small group of individuals are brought together and allowed to interact in a discussion of their opinions about topics, issues, or questions.

Anecdotes as Topic brief accounts or narratives of an incident or event.

Narration the act, process, or an instance of narrating, i.e., telling a story. In the context of MEDICINE or ETHICS, narration includes relating the particular and the personal in the life story of an individual.

Video Recording the storing or preserving of video signals for television to be played back later via a transmitter or receiver. Recordings may be made on magnetic tape or discs (VIDEODISC RECORDING).

Tape Recording recording of information on magnetic or punched paper tape.

Limit your search to specific Publication Types, such as:  Interview, Diaries, Anecdotes


Limit to Qualitative study. Enter your topic in the Search box. In the Limit Your Results section, select Qualitative Study, Interview, or Focus Groups under the Methodology drop-down menu. Click Search.

Use thesaurus terms, such as qualitative research, grounded theory, explode interviews, observation methods.