Journal Articles

Basch, Charles E., Ingrid M. DeCicco, and James L. Malfetti. 1989.  A focus group study on decision processes of young drivers: Reasons that may support a decision to drink and drive. Health Education and Behavior 16 (3): 389-396.

Abstract: This article explores reasons that may support a decision by young drivers to drink and drive. Forty focus group discussions on driving and traffic safety were conducted with 316 volunteers 18 to 22 years of age in 10 cities in the United States and two cities in Canada. The audiotaped discussions identified some factors that may influence young peoples' decisions to drink and drive, such as inappropriate knowledge about alcohol and driving, lack of decision making skills, and the tendency to ignore the increased risk of drinking and driving. While some respondents drove intoxicated because they were unaware of the dangers, others rationalized their drinking and driving behavior. Improved understanding about the nature and extent of the factors influencing young drivers' decisions to drink and drive is essential to planning effective health education programs.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Please discuss how this study uses focus groups as a qualitative method for examining the decision to drink and drive among young people.
  2. How were the participants selected for this research?  What considerations are important when selecting participants for focus group studies?
  3. How do the findings from this study provide opportunities for further qualitative and/or quantitative research?


Waite, Duncan. 2014. Teaching the Unteachable: Some Issues of Qualitative Research Pedagogy. Qualitative Inquiry 20 (3): 267-281.

Abstract: In this essay I broach some of the issues surrounding the teaching of qualitative research methods, not in an effort to necessarily resolve them, but so that we might wrestle with them. Some of the issues concerning the teaching (and learning) of qualitative research include, but are not limited to: the schooling trends of pedagogicization; the politics—global, national, regional, and local—affecting teaching; interpersonal and intrapersonal structures, processes, and relations; the status and hierarchies of knowledge and of curricular subjects; the status accorded research in general and qualitative research in particular; the individual qualities of the instructor and his/her pedagogy; and the nature of the various environments within which teaching occurs. Fieldwork, thinking, and writing—as constitutive elements of qualitative research, are considered in light of the issues raised.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some inherent challenges to teaching and learning qualitative research in educational settings?
  2. How is qualitative research used as part of the assessment process in primary and secondary schools in the U.S.?
  3. Please discuss three areas of qualitative research that students need to master in order to be well-versed in the qualitative approach.


Synnot, Anneliese, Sophie Hill, Michael Summers, and Michael Taylor. 2014. Comparing Face-to-face and Online Qualitative Research With People With Multiple Sclerosis. Qualitative Health Research 1-8.

Abstract: We compared face-to-face focus groups and an online forum in qualitative research with people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and family members. Although the merits and challenges of online qualitative research have been considered by others, there is limited literature directly comparing these two data collection methods for people with disability or chronic illness. Twenty-seven people participated in one of four focus groups and 33 people took part in an online forum. Demographic and MS-related characteristics were similar between the two groups, with a slight nonsignificant trend toward nonmetropolitan residence in online forum participants. There was a high level of overlap in the themes generated between groups. Participant responses in the online forum were more succinct and on-topic, yet in the focus groups interaction was greater. Online qualitative research methods can facilitate research participation for people with chronic illness or disability, yielding generally comparable information to that gathered via face-to-face methods.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is qualitative research used in this study to better understand the experiences and actions of the participants being studied?
  2. Please discuss the challenges associated with using online forums and focus groups versus face-to-face focus groups.
  3. Did the researchers find any differences in using online forums versus face-to-face focus groups?


Sandelowski, Margarete, and Jennifer Leeman. 2012. Writing Usable Qualitative Health Research Findings. Qualitative Health Research 22 (10) 1404-1413. 

Abstract: Scholars in diverse health-related disciplines and specialty fields of practice routinely promote qualitative research as an essential component of intervention and implementation programs of research and of a comprehensive evidence base for practice. Remarkably little attention, however, has been paid to the most important element of qualitative studies—the findings in reports of those studies—and specifically to enhancing the accessibility and utilization value of these findings for diverse audiences of users. The findings in reports of qualitative health research are too often difficult to understand and even to find owing to the way they are presented. A basic strategy for enhancing the presentation of these findings is to translate them into thematic statements, which can then in turn be translated into the language of intervention and implementation. Writers of qualitative health research reports might consider these strategies better to showcase the significance and actionability of findings to a wider audience.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can qualitative research findings be written to better have an impact on health care practice?
  2. What are specific challenges that qualitative research presents to researchers, specifically in terms of presenting the findings?
  3. Please discuss several strategies for using qualitative health research findings effectively to disseminate information to various audiences.