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Fam Pract. 1997 Aug;14(4):313-9.

A review of recently published qualitative research in general practice. More methodological questions than answers?

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Department of General Practice, Health Centre, Llanedeyrn, Cardiff, UK.



This study aimed to review published papers which use qualitative interviewing in general practice as their methodology. To look specifically at the detail of how the methodology is presented to the reader, with particular emphasis on the clarity of detail about recruitment, the relationship of the interviewer to the respondents, the setting and how the research was presented to the respondents.


A systematic search using Medline and hand searching the British Journal of General Practice, Family Practice and Social Science and Medicine identified 29 recent papers using qualitative interviewing techniques in general practice. The papers were analysed for eight methodological criteria by the author. A second analysis, blind to the results of the first analysis was performed by the author 6 weeks later. An independent assessor analysed 12 randomly selected papers. There was 98.3% intra-assessor agreement and 89.6% inter-assessor agreement about whether the eight criteria were met. Overall 140 of a possible 232 criteria were met (60.3%).


Published papers using qualitative interviewing in general practice often lack explicit methodological detail about the relationship between the interviewer and the respondents, the setting, who did the recruiting and how the research was explained to the respondents. This methodological detail is important for the critical appraisal of qualitative research, where the context of the research can influence the data.

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