Welcome on the website for the diffusion of the FNS research CR32I1_132259, entitled
Quality of Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences: Which Evaluation Criteria?
This research was developped at the University of Lausanne and was supervised by Professor Marie Santiago Delefosse (research team).

The aim of this research was to understand debates about quality criteria of qualitative research in health sciences and to propose a TOOLBOX© of main consensual criteria of qualitative research.

A review of international literature in the fields of social and human sciences, medicine and ethics as well as psychology shows a significant increase in studies and publications of a qualitative nature.

  • « Qualitative research is the best means of explaining a number of singular facts peculiar to human beings and social systems which other methods cannot reach » (Pope & Mays, 2005).
  • « Qualitative research aims to provide an in-depth understanding of people’s experiences, perspectives and histories in the context of their personal circumstances or settings. Among many distinctive features, it is characterised by a concern with exploring phenomena from the perspective of those being studied » (Spencer et al., 2003).

Associated with these studies are a number of English-language guidelines presenting criteria for the evaluation of the quality of these studies. Quality criteria of qualitative research and publications raise major issues, which are not only methodological, but above all epistemological and theoretical. The persistence of the debate on the validity of qualitative studies as well as the « patchwork » nature of the existing models underlines a need to develop appropriate directives.

This research allowed collecting 133 existing guidelines of quality criteria of qualitative research. It took place in 4 phases allowing 1) content and lexicometric analysis of guidelines 2) a consensus discussion between experts in 4 major health science fields (medicine and epidemiology; nursing and health education; social sciences and public health; psychology / psychiatry) 3) a test of the guidelines (58) on real material (research project, article, etc.) by expert peers.

This original methodology enabled a better understanding of why these guidelines are problematic and to propose a TOOLBOX© of main consensual criteria of qualitative research for a majority of participants (60). These criteria also agree with those proposed by Pope and Mays and by Spencer et al.

*Workshop = Selected Assessment Panel members + steering group
*Peers users = 40 users of qualitative research tested the guidelines on real material (research project, article, etc.)