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J Family Med Prim Care. 2015 Jul-Sep;4(3):324-7. doi: 10.4103/2249-4863.161306.

Validity, reliability, and generalizability in qualitative research.

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Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada ; Centre of Studies in Primary Care, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


In general practice, qualitative research contributes as significantly as quantitative research, in particular regarding psycho-social aspects of patient-care, health services provision, policy setting, and health administrations. In contrast to quantitative research, qualitative research as a whole has been constantly critiqued, if not disparaged, by the lack of consensus for assessing its quality and robustness. This article illustrates with five published studies how qualitative research can impact and reshape the discipline of primary care, spiraling out from clinic-based health screening to community-based disease monitoring, evaluation of out-of-hours triage services to provincial psychiatric care pathways model and finally, national legislation of core measures for children's healthcare insurance. Fundamental concepts of validity, reliability, and generalizability as applicable to qualitative research are then addressed with an update on the current views and controversies.


Controversies; generalizability; primary care research; qualitative research; reliability; validity

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