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The Differences Between Quantitative and Qualitative Nursing Research, Essay Example

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There are substantial differences between a qualitative and a quantitative approach to nursing.  Although a nurse typically uses both types of analysis in his/her everyday activities, they answer different questions (Morse, Hupcey, Mitcham, & Lenz, 1996).

A nurse typically uses quantitative analysis when taking vital signs in order to understand whether a patient is doing well or not. For example, a nurse may take a patient’s blood pressure  or take a patient’s heart rate or breathing rate to assess their condition.  Quantitative results can also be interpreted to understand whether a patient has an illness. A SBP reading above a certain level may be judged to indicate hypertension; a pulse rate too low may lead to an assessment of cardiac troubles.  Quantitative analysis depends on the analysis of factors that can be quantified.

Qualitative analysis, on the other hand, focuses on assessing the quality of something through interview and or non-quantitative description- such as words (Granehem, & Lundman, 2003).

For example, nurses may use interview to assess what symptoms an individual has or what illnesses he/she is experiencing.  The use of interviews is one main qualitative method used to assess the conditions of patients.  Another typically used qualitative method is scales: a nurse may ask a patient their approximate level of pain.

A researcher usually chooses an analytical method based on what type of research question is being answered.  For example, a vital sign is a question easily amenable to quantitative analysis.  If a doctor asks what a patient’s blood pressure is, a quantitative method would be used.  If a nurse wanted to know the general pain condition of individuals in a nursing home- a qualitative method may be used.

References

Granehem, U.H. & Lundman, B. (2003). Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures, and measures to achieve trustworthiness.  Nurse Education Today, 24(2), 105-12.

Morse, J.M., Hupcey, J.E., Mitcham, C. & Lenz, E.R. (1996). Concept analysis in nursing research. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice, 10(3), 253-277.

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