Qualitative Analysis

Qualitative analysis is a powerful tool enabling our researchers to explore people's motivations, behavior, desires, and needs. We use qualitative methods to better understand how people think and talk about a problem so that the survey instrument we develop includes the relevant concepts and appropriate terminology. We also use qualitative methods to follow up on data analysis with in-depth investigations of why certain outcomes were found, often leading to research questions for future projects.

When applied to evaluation projects, qualitative analysis is ideally suited to answering questions about how a program operates and in what ways it affects people. We can document the evolution of implementation processes as well as the ongoing monitoring of programs after implementation. Qualitative research also provides us with a unique means to assess program or policy outcomes, allowing for the study of both anticipated and unanticipated outcomes, changes in perceptions as a result of the efforts of the program or policy, and the strengths and weaknesses of the administrative or organizational structure that was used to implement the program. It can also lead to research questions for future projects.

Methodologies/Techniques

  • Focus groups and triads
  • Key informant interviews
  • Site observations
  • Case studies
  • Document reviews
  • Ethnography
  • Rapid assessment procedure
  • Cognitive/think-aloud interviews

Applications

  • Study design and implementation
  • Behavioral and clinical interventions
  • Community mobilizations and interventions
  • Advocacy efforts and training programs
  • Survey development and cognitive testing
  • Cultural competency and domains
  • Formative evaluation
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Impact and outcome assessment
  • Community assets and needs mapping
  • Ecological models
  • Process/implementation evaluation
  • Theory-based evaluation
  • Program logic models and conceptual framework
  • Individual, institutional and community-level change

Projects

  • NIMH Collaborative HIV/STD Prevention Trial. Assessing the HIV knowledge, attitude, and behaviors (KABs) for different risk populations in China, Russia, India, Peru, and Zimbabwe.
  • Nature and Outcomes for Women of Stressors Associated with Military Life. Examining a broad array of stressors to which women in the active-duty Army and Army Reserves may be exposed and the relationship of these stressors to physical and mental health, substance abuse, and other areas of functioning.
  • NC Women's Co-Op Study. Assessing a woman-focused HIV prevention program for African-American crack cocaine abusers in central North Carolina.
  • Project DIRECT Comprehensive Evaluation. Evaluating CDC's Project DIRECT (Diabetes Intervention Reaching and Educating Communities Together), the first comprehensive community-based project in the U.S. to address the growing burden of diabetes among African Americans.
  • Acceptability of Microbicides. Measuring the acceptability of vaginal microbicides for female patients at high risk of acquiring an STI and/or HIV for the NICHD.
  • Evaluation of HIV Evaluation Technical Assistance. Assessing the needs for evaluation assistance by state and local community organizations involved in HIV prevention for the CDC.
  • TRICARE Inpatient Satisfaction Survey (TRISS). Assessing the experiences of active-duty and retired military personnel and their dependents about the inpatient care they received through the direct care and purchased care systems.