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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: J. Thomas Pierce, MBBS PhD(Navy Environmental Health Center)
Description: In this book on qualitative research, the authors include eight chapters that stretch from an invitation to join the field to plans for dissemination of findings. Major chapters also speak to study design, collecting qualitative data, logistical concerns and data analysis and reporting techniques. The short list of chapters is buttressed by more than 14 appendixes that can help even a beginning researcher understand important issues (oral consent forms, focus group guidelines, and appraisal skills, among others).
Purpose: The authors state that the purpose is to make the methods of qualitative science more accessible to researchers and practitioners challenged by problems that affect the public's health. There is perhaps an important statement made by Dean Alan Steckler in the foreword that "qualitative methods fill a gap in the public health toolbox, (helping) to understand underlying behaviors, attitudes, perceptions and culture." My reading of this book is that its purpose includes an implied recommendation for the utility of qualitative research methods.
Audience: Given the resurgence in popularity of narrative medicine and associated qualitative research techniques, this book may find a broad readership. While its core audience may consist of qualitative method researchers, particularly those in the reproduction and infectious disease fields, I believe it merits a broader audience. It is important to note the title indicates Qualitative Methods in Public Health as opposed to a narrower categorization.
Features: In addition to its eight chapters, the book includes 14 useful appendixes that provide critical items such as samples of conceptual frameworks, examples of consent forms, and sample budgets. These are indispensable items! Although materials such as the Critical Appraisal Skill checklist in Appendix Nine are copyrighted, they can save time and expense.
Assessment: The authors have been generous in citing everything from general textbooks, all the way through data management sources, and even extending to list-serve recommendations. Thus, I see this book as an important reference. The book is generous in permitting note taking along its two inch outer margins. I particularly admire the authors' decision to include an example of qualitative-quantitative research design. Both the authors and contributors are distinguished on a global scale.