Novel methods of qualitative analysis for health policy research
Martínez-García, M.; Vallejo, M.; Hernández-Lemus, E.; Álvarez-Díaz, J.A.
Health Research Policy and Systems 17(1): 6
ISSN/ISBN: 1478-4505 PMID: 30642358 DOI: 10.1186/s12961-018-0404-z
Currently, thanks to the growing number of public database resources, most evidence on planning and management, healthcare institutions, policies and practices is becoming available to everyone. However, one of the limitations for the advancement of data and literature-driven research has been the lack of flexibility of the methodological resources used in qualitative research. There is a need to incorporate friendly, cheaper and faster tools for the systematic, unbiased analysis of large data corpora, in particular regarding the qualitative aspects of the information (often overlooked). This article proposes a series of novel techniques, exemplified by the case of the role of Institutional Committees of Bioethics to (1) massively identify the documents relevant to a given issue, (2) extract the fundamental content, focusing on qualitative analysis, (3) synthesize the findings in the published literature, (4) categorize and visualize the evidence, and (5) analyse and report the results. A critical study of the institutional role of public health policies and practices in Institutional Committees of Bioethics was used as an example application of the method. Interactive strategies were helpful to define and conceptualise variables, propose research questions and refine research interpretation. These methods are additional aids to systematic reviews, pre-coding schemes and construction of a priori diagrams to survey and analyse social science literature. These novel methods have proven to facilitate the formulation and testing of hypotheses on the subjects to be studied. Such tools may allow important advances going from descriptive approaches to decision-making and even institutional assessment and policy redesign, by pragmatic reason of time and costs.