Using Qualitative Research in the Clinical Setting

Subject: Healthcare Research
Pages: 2
Words: 575
Reading time:
3 min


Many medical researchers use qualitative research in clinical settings (Miller 191; Wimpenny and Gass 1485). Their motivation to do so stems from the capability for qualitative research to act as evidence for nursing practice changes. In my profession as a nurse, I find qualitative research to be useful in my practice, especially because I serve in different positions in the operating room (OR) as a first scrub, circulator, and educator. Nonetheless, generally, this paper outlines how qualitative research is useful in the clinical setting.

Developing Nursing Knowledge

Qualitative research is important to the nursing practice because it helps generate new knowledge that nurses could use in the clinical setting (Latimer 185). This contribution is important in the clinical environment because clinical procedures are products of evidence-based practices (Wimpenny and Gass 1485). In this regard, qualitative research can help to answer different types of questions that relate to human responses. It can also help to solve actual or potential health problems. The answers to some of these questions emerge from the development of nursing theory. Most of the information generated through this format should inform practice (Miller 191). In such cases, clinicians would understand a patients’ subjective experiences in the clinical setting. For example, Flemming (619) says clinicians can learn about their patients’ experiences about living with a disease. Still, within the context of knowledge generation, qualitative research could enhance primary studies because researchers have identified it as a good use of primary data (Flemming 619).

Provides Rich descriptions of Complex Phenomena

Unlike quantitative research studies that explain research phenomena using measurable indices, qualitative research helps clinicians to investigate complex phenomena that most people cannot understand using measurable indices (Nursing Planet 2). This advantage comes from the capability of qualitative research to use multiple methods of analysis, which are subject to interpretation (Pohlman 1). By using emergent as opposed to prefigured techniques, the qualitative research method could help clinicians to develop rich descriptions of complex phenomena in the clinical setting.

Providing Context and Meaning of Evidence generated through Quantitative Research

Most of the data generated through quantitative research are descriptive. Therefore, it is difficult to understand the hidden meanings behind such data. Nonetheless, while quantitative research may describe a phenomenon, it is difficult to understand why these descriptions prevail. Qualitative research helps to answer such questions. By providing an in-depth analysis of research data, qualitative research helps clinicians to understand the context and meaning of clinical findings generated through quantitative research methods (Pohlman 1-6). For example, the Nursing Planet (6) says qualitative research helps clinicians to understand the context of the effectiveness of interventions used in the clinical setting. Relative to this view, Flemming says, “By synthesizing qualitative studies and creating knowledge with broader applicability, the results of effectiveness studies and reviews can be put in the context in which care is delivered” (619). Researchers have highlighted different instances when qualitative research helped to provide context and meaning to interventions (Miller 191; Wimpenny and Gass 1485). For example, Flemming (619) says it provided context and meaning to the use of directly observed therapy (DOT) in tuberculosis treatment.


This paper has shown that qualitative research is useful in clinical settings because it helps to develop new nursing knowledge, provides rich descriptions of complex phenomena, and provides context and meaning to evidence generated through quantitative research. These contributions reveal that qualitative research is critical in interpretive inquiry, which forms one key building principle of clinical research.


Flemming, Kate. “Synthesis of qualitative research and evidence-based nursing.” British Journal of Nursing, 16.10 (2007): 616-620. Print.

Latimer, Joanna. Advanced Qualitative Research for Nursing, London, UK: John Wiley & Sons, 2009. Print.

Miller, Wendy. “Qualitative Research Findings as Evidence: Utility in Nursing Practice.” Clin Nurse Spec 24.4 (2010): 191–193. Print.

Nursing Planet. Qualitative Research in Nursing. 2013. Web.

Pohlman, Shawn. “Fathering Premature Infants and the Technological Imperative of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: An Interpretive Inquiry.” Advances in Nursing Science 32.3 (2009): 1-16. Print.

Wimpenny, Peter and Gass John. “Interviewing in phenomenology and grounded theory: is there a difference?” Journal of Advanced Nursing 3.6 (2000): 1485-1492. Print.