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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.

Photo of Dr. Anika Adero Hardie Alvanzo, M.D., M.S.

Alvanzo, Anika Adero Hardie, M.D., M.S.

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Medical Director, Substance Use Disorders Consultation Service
Research Interests: Screening and brief interventions for at-risk substance use, Race/ethnicity and sex differences in substance use disorders, Substance use disorders and posttraumatic stress with emphasis on relationship between physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse and substance use in women
Photo of Dr. Mary Catherine Beach, M.D., M.P.H.

Beach, Mary Catherine, M.D., M.P.H.

Professor of Medicine
Research Interests: Health care quality for underserved populations, Patient-clinician communication, Sickle-cell disease, HIV and substance abuse, Bioethics, Respect
Photo of Dr. Wendy Lynet Bennett, M.D., M.P.H.

Bennett, Wendy Lynet, M.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Research Interests: Obesity, Diabetes, Women''s health
Photo of Dr. Zackary Dov Berger, M.D., Ph.D.

Berger, Zackary Dov, M.D., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Medicine
Director, Lewisohn Elective Clerkship, MD-PhD Program
Associate Editor, Johns Hopkins Physician Education and Assessment Center
Research Interests: Role of the primary care provider in cancer survivorship, Doctor-patient communication, Bioethics, Social media and health, Shared decision making and patient-centered care
Photo of Dr. Lisa Angeline Cooper, M.D., M.P.H.

Cooper, Lisa Angeline, M.D., M.P.H.

Professor of Medicine
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Health and Healthcare Equity
James F. Fries Professor of Medicine
Director, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Equity
Core Faculty, Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research
Research Interests: Race/ethnic health disparities, Patient-centered care, Patient-Physician relationships and communication
Photo of Dr. Gail Geller, Sc.D.

Geller, Gail, Sc.D.

Professor of Medicine
Professor of Pediatrics
Photo of Dr. Raquel Charles Greer, M.D., M.H.S.

Greer, Raquel Charles, M.D., M.H.S.

Assistant Professor of Medicine
Co-Director, Clinical Epidemiology Curriculum, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Research Interests: Health disparities in chronic kidney disease
Photo of Dr. Jeremy Sugarman, M.A., M.D., M.P.H.

Sugarman, Jeremy, M.A., M.D., M.P.H.

Professor of Medicine
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

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