Qualitative research design and approaches in radiography

Curtise K C Ng, Peter White

Research output: Journal article publicationReview articleAcademic researchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Radiography, as with other health care professions, aims towards establishing full professional recognition. A recognized research background is considered an essential component of this. Usually, emphasis is placed on quantitative research which focuses on the deductive component of the scientific 'confirmatory' method. However, this situation changed after the emergence of a post-positivist philosophy of medical research, which suggests the need for both quantitative and qualitative research to grasp a better understanding of the reality. The nature of qualitative research, unlike quantitative, is inductive and exploratory, providing insight into certain topics of which little is known and hence complementing quantitative research. Purpose: This article identifies the main qualitative research traditions that can be applied to radiography, providing a review in terms of their applications, areas of inquiry, and strengths and weaknesses according to the nature of the study. Previous radiography studies using qualitative approaches are critically reviewed to illustrate these issues. Their applications are also discussed based on the proposed radiography research framework by Adams and Smith, who identified broad radiography research areas aiming to further the research capacity of radiographers and the profession, especially by means of qualitative research. Methods: A comprehensive literature search was conducted using the CINAHL and ScienceDirect databases and the journal Radiography, and by using the keywords qualitative research to identify articles focusing on qualitative research. Only articles that were related to health care disciplines were then selected for the review. Conclusion: Three approaches, that are grounded theory, phenomenology and ethnography, can all be applied to the proposed radiography research framework to study intra- and inter-professional issues and clinical practice, and patient and health delivery issues. Hence, qualitative research methods can be used to rigorously study these important areas so as to produce high quality outcomes and promote the use of qualitative approaches in the radiography research culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005


  • Ethnography
  • Grounded theory
  • Phenomenology
  • Qualitative research
  • Radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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