Skip to main content

The reporting characteristic of qualitative study: a review

Date and Location




Monday 23 September 2013 - 10:30 - 12:00


Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author

Chunhu SHI

Contact person

Kehu Yang
Abstract text
Background:Although some searching strategies or filters have been reported and assessed, identifying appropriate qualitative research remains frustrating and difficult. Objectives:To review to what extent terms on qualitative study were correctly used. Methods:On the first part, by electronic search with broad-based strategy (Shaw RL 2004) on qualitative study in PubMed, we collected eligible studies focusing on developing or assessing a search strategy or filter. Then terms of these strategies were retrieved to develop a list of terms on qualitative study (contrast terms). On the second part, using a search filter (Booth A 2006), qualitative reviews were collected from PubMed. Then after screening titles and abstracts, eligible full texts were included with randomly selected block sizes. The reporting characteristics were extracted and investigated by comparing with the contrast terms. Results:On the first part, 9 strategies were included from 11 studies. A list including 29 terms on qualitative studies was developed to be a contrast. On the second part, 308 relevant studies were retrieved from 582 citations. Finally, 68 full-texts were randomly selected. Only 34 (50%) studies were true qualitative reviews, among which 19 (56%) clearly reported the inclusion of primary qualitative researches. And qualitative study, experience, meta synthesis, interpretation, theme, qualitative review, qualitative synthesis, meta ethnography, expectation and grounded theory were included in our contrast term list, except that interpretation, view, attitude and belief. Another 19 (28%) reported a synonyms on qualitative review which was included in our contrast in titles, and 15 (22%) reported these in abstracts. But they were not true qualitative reviews. Conclusions:Qualitative study can be retrieved from PubMed with the existing searching strategies. But with a lack of reporting guidance on qualitative study, terms on qualitative review are misused.