Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters The BMJ and qualitative research

Qualitative research, observational research, and The BMJ

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 15 March 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i1483
  1. Mark J Bolland, associate professor of medicine1,
  2. Alison Avenell, clinical chair in health services research2,
  3. Andrew Grey, associate professor of medicine1
  1. 1University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland, New Zealand
  2. 2Health Services Research Unit, University of Aberdeen, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK
  1. m.bolland{at}

Many of the reasons that qualitative research is given low priority at The BMJ also apply to observational studies.1 Their results are often not definitive or “likely to change clinical practice and help doctors make better decisions.” Their design means causality cannot be inferred, and confounding is invariably present and difficult to control for. Analyses …

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