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Health Educ Q. 1992 Spring;19(1):117-35.

An uneasy alliance: combining qualitative and quantitative research methods.

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  • 1University of Massachusetts, Amherst 01003.


The paper describes the difficulties encountered in trying to combine qualitative and quantitative research methods in a study of the relationship between moral reasoning and teenage drug use. Four problems that arose in the attempt to reduce qualitative data to a quantitative format are described. These problems are: (1) making analytic sense of singular responses; (2) a mistaken logical inference that demands that each pattern of judgment should have discrete behavioral indicators; (3) the construction and use of ideal types; and (4) making analytic sense of universal responses. The roots of these problems are then traced to the underlying philosophical premises that distinguish the qualitative and quantitative research paradigms. The implications of the different goals, assumptions, and standards of evaluation informing each of the respective methods for future research are discussed.

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