The Role of Qualitative Research in Health Research Methods


Robyn Rapoport, EVP – Health Care, Public Policy Research & Strategic Initiatives, SSRS

Darby Steiger, Director of Qualitative Research & Survey Design, SSRS

SSRS has been conducting a wide range of research over the past 25+ years to study the health and healthcare experiences of the general population, Medicare and Medicaid recipients, the uninsured, and other sub-populations that have been historically underserved in healthcare. We also conduct many studies among physicians, a wide range of other health care providers, and healthcare executives.

While surveys are essential to accurately reflect the needs, experiences and opinions of these populations, SSRS is increasingly using qualitative methods to: (1) ensure we are asking survey questions meaningfully, (2) enhance our survey data and (3) help people’s unique voices and stories be heard.

With concerns about the impacts of health disparities and inequities at the forefront, along with ongoing concerns about challenges experienced by our healthcare workforce (such as burnout, inadequate staffing, and rising healthcare costs affecting access to care), incorporating qualitative methods offers a powerful opportunity provide insights into these critical issues.

To support this increasing need, we are currently spearheading a strategic expansion of SSRS’s qualitative practice. Under our joint leadership, SSRS has been bringing new and creative solutions to help our clients better understand the public’s healthcare needs and experiences.

A few potential applications, inspired by recent SSRS research include:

Regardless of the selected methodology, qualitative research helps us provide our clients with an enriched understanding and deep insights that go beyond survey data on its own.

When conducting qualitative research on healthcare topics, here are some important considerations to keep in mind:

In today’s rapidly changing healthcare landscape, it is more important than ever to leverage qualitative methods to understand people’s motivations, attitudes, behaviors, and experiences. We are excited to be contributing to this research and helping organizations use qualitative data to better meet their objectives.