The place of qualitative in nursing research

By Antônio Candio about literature, paraphrased to meet nursing research: “Here I understand as humanization [...] the process that confirm that in man those traits that are called essential, such as exercise for reflection, the acquistion of knowledge, the good availability with other, the fine tuning of emotions, the ability to overcome life problems, the sense of beauty, the perspection of the complexity of world and human-beings, and the cultivation of humor. The literature [qualitative research] [must develop] develops within us the part of the humanity and turns us more comphreensive and open to nature, to society, and to others”.11. Candido A. Direitos Humanos e literatura. In: Fester ACR, organizador. Direitos humanos e ... . São Paulo: Brasiliense; 1989.

In the current health and nursing world, especially in research, diffusion and assessment of scientific output using the quantitative approach is fully accepted as a synonym of scientificity. Since undergraduation, students are guided to believe that qualitative approach is the best one, if not the single approach to approximate reality in terms of researching or diffussing or evaluating.

This editorial, which I thank the journal Editor-in-Chief for the hono for invite me, aims to show, very briefly, that quantitative approach would not survive without the qualitative approach as a complement or as central for scientific output, specially in studies that focus is human, both single individuals or groups. My goal is not to defend quantitative, because I accept that it is extremely important to quantify parts of phenomena that, fractioned, are presented as more universal “dotes” which can give universal or general responses. In defense of qualitative, I have chosen some aspects that deserve to be thinking, such as: the importance of quality; the possiblity or the imperative for complex phenomena, and in the end, the qualitative approach as important approach to advance studies, to diffuse and to evaluate scientific output.

I always inspire myself in Minayo to talk about quality. In her book, co-authored by Costa “Techniques that use speech, observation and empathy: qualitative research in action ”, the authors claim that qualitative research has as raw material, the group of nouns in which each complete the other’s meaning: experience, living, common sense and action. The movement that inform any approach or analysis [...] is based on three verbs: understand, interprete and guide.”22. Minayo MC, Costa AP. Técnicas que fazem uso da palavra, do olhar e da empatia: pesquisa qualitativa em ação. Aveiro: Ludomedia; 2019. 64 p.

The book “qualitative investigation: innovation, dilemmas, and challenges – volume 2” is a must reading for those who thinking seriously about research.33. Costa AP, Coutinho C, Sánchez C, Souza DN, Egry EY, Souza FN, et al. Investigação qualitativa: inovação, dilemas e desafios. Souza FN de, Souza DN de, Costa AP, organizadores. Aveiro - Portugal: Ludomedia; 2014. vol. 1, 152 p.

To Egry and Fonseca44. Egry EY, Fonseca RM. Acerca da qualidade nas pesquisas qualitativas em Enfermagem. In: Costa AP, Neri de Souza F, Neri de Souza D, organizadores. Investigação qualitativa: inovação, dilemas e desafios. Aveiro: Ludomedia; 2014. p. 75–102. the quality signals. the intensity that is oposed to extensity, the first pointing to improve and second pointing to the greater and seeking to observe dimensions of phenomena that: present deep marks, such as love, react routine seeking renewal such as happiness, consider committement such as political engagement, or militance, indicate the plenitue of human realization such as santity, value to human participation such as demography, citizenship, and point out to valorization dimensions to be human such as dedication, ethical, abnegation, envolviment, help, solidarity, etc.

A rapid look into international indexed publication about the topic show that there is growing of articles within this broad spectrum of qualitative methods. If one side there is expansion, to the other side there is type of banalization of studies concerning the method. The big difference and importance of qualitative method in the attempting to approximate the object of study is this theoretical framework, or fundamental of methods. If these information is not clear in the study, this is only because of the reduced and specific framework that could be quantitative, but lacks “quantities” for demostration.

To provide the in-depth viewing of reality, and by seeking to essence of phenomeno, the qualitative research can be key to produce critical knowledge, emancipation, and deep commitement with social transformation.

However, the Thorne et al.55. Thorne S, Stephens J, Truant T. Building qualitative study design using nursing’s disciplinary epistemology. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):451–60. study contests the extensive use of conventional approaches to aligned drawing to researchers in social sciences. To these authors instead of right aligning, there should be support in nursing epistemology, such as step highly productive to define the framework of problem of the study. We agree with authors that, althought Nursing is characterized by coherent phylosophical core that is unified during the practices of more diversity in terms of configuration and contexts, the complexity and nature of nursing make excepctionally hard to define these markers.

I consider extremely interesting that authors advocate, considering the premise that nursing research question is never free of context, but what appears is that “instead arises on the basis of critical reflection, informed by a conscious awareness of the limitations of current knowledge for the practice of the profession. [...] And it assumes an inherently praxis orientation in the sense that the dialectic between knowledge and the action on which it is based will ultimately determine its utility and value”.55. Thorne S, Stephens J, Truant T. Building qualitative study design using nursing’s disciplinary epistemology. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):451–60.,66. Reed PG. The practice turn in nursing epistemology. Nurs Sci Q. 2006;19(1):36–8.

I believe I can conclude that other areas of knowledge already get here before us, and it is that understand the objective reality in sense of intervation – and this is mission of nursing care – the most fertile way is alliance between quantitative and qualitative. In other words, there are no way to approach complex phenomeno, such as acessibility to care and therapeutic, the facing of domestic violence, the inusitated expansion of diseases that appears and stays in the history, the development of new manners of critical epidemiologic look in territory or in strethgten displaced populations (migrants).

We known that science is distant to be right and definitive, even with all scientific rigorisity of methods, because they came from continous movements of dialetic superation of previous knowledges.

Quality of qualitative research depends on adoption of phylosophical theoretical marker that can cover complex phenomeno and do no reduces description of numbers, the object to be study and how they behave of qualitative approximation, methodology and methological pathway, which must be chosen as a form to illuminate the phenomeno in total-part and final to reconstruc them as summary contradictions to be overcome. The rigorosity and transparence of theoretical framework, and methological pathway of categories of analysis and techniques of data analysis. The deep analysis of findings mediating intertextus with results of researches, broad and current, of systesis that comtemplate dimensions of singular, particular and general, the ethical in conduction of research and devolution and diffuse results.

Finally, it is important to recognize the quality of qualitative research which is dependence of production of significant socially knowledge and to the society.

References

  • 1
    Candido A. Direitos Humanos e literatura. In: Fester ACR, organizador. Direitos humanos e ... . São Paulo: Brasiliense; 1989.
  • 2
    Minayo MC, Costa AP. Técnicas que fazem uso da palavra, do olhar e da empatia: pesquisa qualitativa em ação. Aveiro: Ludomedia; 2019. 64 p.
  • 3
    Costa AP, Coutinho C, Sánchez C, Souza DN, Egry EY, Souza FN, et al. Investigação qualitativa: inovação, dilemas e desafios. Souza FN de, Souza DN de, Costa AP, organizadores. Aveiro - Portugal: Ludomedia; 2014. vol. 1, 152 p.
  • 4
    Egry EY, Fonseca RM. Acerca da qualidade nas pesquisas qualitativas em Enfermagem. In: Costa AP, Neri de Souza F, Neri de Souza D, organizadores. Investigação qualitativa: inovação, dilemas e desafios. Aveiro: Ludomedia; 2014. p. 75–102.
  • 5
    Thorne S, Stephens J, Truant T. Building qualitative study design using nursing’s disciplinary epistemology. J Adv Nurs. 2016;72(2):451–60.
  • 6
    Reed PG. The practice turn in nursing epistemology. Nurs Sci Q. 2006;19(1):36–8.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    11 May 2020
  • Date of issue
    2020
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