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Qualitative Research

Qualitative research is a field of inquiry that crosscuts disciplines and subject matters.  There are three major approaches to qualitative research: ethnography (drawn from anthropology); phenomenology (drawn from philosophy) and grounded theory (drawn from sociology).  Typically, the research questions addressed by qualitative methods are discovery-oriented, descriptive and exploratory in nature.  Qualitative researchers aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons that govern human behavior.  Various aspects of behavior could be based on deeply held values, personal perspectives, experiences and contextual circumstances.  

Qualitative research investigates the why and how of decision making, not just what, where, and when.  Therefore, the need is for smaller but focused samples rather than large random samples. Qualitative analysis involves categorizing data into patterns as the primary basis for organizing and reporting results.  Qualitative researchers typically rely on several methods for gathering information: (1) participation in the setting, (2) direct observation, (3) in depth interviews, (4) focus groups, and (5) analysis of documents and materials. 

Although it is common to draw a distinction between qualitative and quantitative aspects of scientific investigation, a mixed-methods approach (a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques) is often used.  Qualitative research is, in some cases, instrumental to developing an understanding of a phenomenon as a basis for quantitative research. In other cases, it can inform or enrich our understanding of quantitative results.  Similarly, quantitative research may inform, or be drawn upon in the process of qualitative research. 

Information about the faculty conducting qualitative research and their projects is provided below.

Anika Alvanzo, MD, MA
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Medical Director, Program for Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies ("911 Broadway")
Research Interests: Relationship between trauma experiences and alcohol use in women 
Link to publication abstracts: PubMed

Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH
Associate Professor of Medicine and Health, Behavior and Society
Core Faculty, Berman Institute of Bioethics
Core Faculty, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research

Research Interests: Physician-patient relationship and communication, respect, ethics
To see publication abstracts: PUBMED 

Wendy Bennett, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine and Population, Family and Reproductive Health
Research Interests: Patient-physician relationship and obesity management

To see publication abstracts: PubMed

Zackary Berger, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Core Faculty, Berman Institute of Bioethics
Core Faculty, Evidence-Based Practice Center
Research Interests: Patient-provider communication in the hospital, agenda-setting during the outpatient visit, patient-provider diagnostic concordance
To see publication abstracts, see Dr. Berger's faculty page 

Lisa Cooper, MD,  MPH, FACP
Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Health, Behavior and Society
Core Faculty, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research

Director, Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities
Research Interests: Health disparities in depression care, spirituality, physician-patient relationship and communication
To see publication abstracts: PUBMED

Gail Geller, ScD, MHS 
Professor of Medicine, PediatricsHealth Policy and Management, and Health, Behavior and Society
Core Faculty, Berman Institute of Bioethics
Research Interests: Communication and decision-making, ethics and professionalism, genetics, women's health, medical education, complementary and alternative medicine
To see publication abstracts: PUBMED

Raquel Charles Greer, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Clinical Epidemiology Curriculum, SOM
Research Interests: Health disparities in chronic kidney disease, quality of chronic kidney disease care
To see publication abstracts: PubMed

Jeremy Sugarman, MD, MPH, MA
Harvey M. Meyerhoff Professor of Bioethics and Medicine
Deputy Director for Medicine, Berman Institute of Bioethics

Research Interests: Philosophical and empirical research in biomedical ethics
To see publication abstracts: PUBMED

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