Quantitative and qualitative methods: opposition or complementarity?

This paper summarizes a methodological debate underway at the Brazilian National School of Public Health concerning the two major approaches for investigations in the field of health: the quantitative and qualitative methods. The authors - a public health anthropologist and a biostatistician - used theoretical and practical arguments to demonstrate that these methods are differentiated in nature, but that they complement each other in the understanding of social reality. In a world where human beings are distinguished by communicative language, this debate focuses on the possibility, meaning, and limits of both mathematical language and the language commonly used in everyday life.

Biostatistics; Research Methods; Social Sciences; Public Health


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