Use of Qualitative Methodology in Public Health Research

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Research in multidisciplinary public health can be challenging. There can be serious tension generated among the participants in the research process concerning which approaches are best suitable for the research. Also, the choice of methods to be considered from a compendium of methods that best suits a study could be a herculean task to overcome owing to the differences in the interests and views of the various disciplines involved in public health research (Saks, 2013). This could result in a pyramid of research approaches where an approach is seen by professionals as more scientific and more relevant to public health than others. Research approaches have been observed in the past to have a vertical relationship with each other. In today’s multidisciplinary public health, there is a need to consider them as a spectrum having a horizontal rather than a vertical relationship. This could present a challenge to a new researcher in the field who does not know all the approaches are available and the best applicable to a study. Also, the experienced researcher who already has a particular approach of preference and considers others as inferior may not be applying the best approach available to a study owing to this bias. There is a need for researchers in public heath to be dexterous in research methodology by moving beyond the limits of one’s discipline and gaining skills in a spectrum of approaches available and probably use a blend of methods so as to effectively conduct research (Daly, 1997). As such, I will be discussing Ethnography and Participatory Action research approaches relevant to multidisciplinary public health. I will examine their theoretical and epistemological basis and reflect on their strengths and weaknesses.

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