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Health Educ Q. 1992 Spring;19(1):41-54.

Explaining differences between qualitative and quantitative data: a study of chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy.

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Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


Experts acknowledge that communication projects would benefit from the use of open-ended interviews, focus groups, surveys, trials of behaviors, observation, and other research techniques to identify community and individual knowledge, beliefs, preferences, actual behavior, as well as a host of sociodemographic and economic characteristics necessary for planning and implementation. Communication planners often rely exclusively on survey research for program planning, claiming ease of administration and reliability of results. Reliance on this single research method often results in less appropriate interventions than could be developed with multiple research methods. This article reports the use of multiple methods to examine the cultural and behavioral factors which influence the use of antimalarial chemoprophylaxis during pregnancy in Malawi, Central Africa. This article will demonstrate how quantitative techniques such as cross sectional interviews and chemical tests as well as qualitative ethnographic information were used in the study; demonstrate how diverse results from multiple research techniques may be integrated; discuss general sources of bias in this research; and show how the use of multiple research methods may be incorporated in formative research for health communication programs.

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