Analysis that relies on descriptive accounts of behavior, beliefs, feelings, or values, with few or no numerical data available for statistical analysis. The qualitative method consists of critical scrutiny of all the available descriptive material, somewhat in the manner used by lawyers and judges in the courts when they weigh the evidence and arrive at a decision. The method is sometimes criticized on the grounds that it relies on subjective judgments rather than objective measurement, but if observational evidence is assessed without emotional value judgments, it can be a useful, reproducible method. It is sometimes a preliminary to or may lead to quantitative research or alternatively may help to make sense of statistical associations.
Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology.