Medical Practice and Reviews
Subscribe to MPR
Full Name*
Email Address*

Article Number - 300BC8252626

Vol.6(3), pp. 24-30 , April 2015
DOI: 10.5897/MPR.2014.0112
ISSN: 2141-2596

Full Length Research Paper

The challenges of qualitative research: Can it be used to strengthen decision making for health care in Uganda?

Hizaamu Ramadhan
  • Hizaamu Ramadhan
  • Department of Management Sciences, Uganda Management Institute, P. O. Box 20131, Kampala, Uganda.
  • Google Scholar

 Received: 05 March 2014  Accepted: 27 April 2015  Published: 30 April 2015

Copyright © 2015 Author(s) retain the copyright of this article.
This article is published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0

The growing need to integrate qualitative research findings in health care is a result of its ability to provide more credence to empirical data from the Uganda Health Management Information System (HMIS) in Uganda. This paper based on literature review identifies some of the main challenges encountered in use of qualitative research findings to inform the policy decision making process. While opportunities abound to generate qualitative information for policy development, the weak research agenda which is largely defined by donors and the dominance of positivists in senior management positions in the Uganda health sector play an important role in locating qualitative research in the development agenda. The paper concludes by stressing the need to support qualitative research as the basis for integrating social development constructs beyond what empirical information derived from the routine HMIS.


Key words: Qualitative research, decision making, health care.

Amin M (2004). Foundations of Statistical Inference for Social Science Research. Makerere University Printery, Kampala.
Armstrong R, Doyle J, Lamb C, Waters E (2006). Multi-sectoral health promotion and public health: the role of evidence. J Public Health (Oxf) 28(2):168-172.
Atkinson P, Coffey A, Delmont S (2001). A debate about our canon. Qual. Res. 1(1):5-21.
Atkinson P, Delamont S (2006). In the roiling smoke: Qualitative inquiry and contested fields. Int. J. Qual. Stud. Educ. 19(6):747-755.
Barbour R (2001). Checklists for improving rigour in qualitative research: a case of the tail wagging the dog? Br. Med. J. 322(7294):1115-1117.
Bendassolli F (2013). Theory Building in Qualitative Research: Reconsidering the Problem of Induction [50 paragraphs]. Forum: Qualitative Soc. Res. 14(1):25.
Biller-Andorno N, Lie R, ter Meulen R (2002). Evidence-based medicine as an instrument for rational health policy. Health Care Anal. 10(3):261-275.
Bowling A (2010). Research Methods in Health: Investigating Health and Health Services. (2nd ed), Buckingham: Open University Press.
Bryman A, Burgess R (1993). Analyzing Qualitative Data. London, Routledge.
Burrell G, Morgan G (1979). Sociological Paradigms and Organizational Analysis: Elements of the Sociology of Corporate Life. Pearson Education, 1979.
Darbyshire P (1997). Qualitative research: is it becoming a new orthodoxy? Nurs. Inq. 4(1):1-2.
Dawn B (2007). Understanding qualitative research and its value in healthcare. Nurs. Times 103(8):32-33. Available at:
Demetrius M, Bryan M (2012). Strengths and Weaknesses of Quantitative and Qualitative Research. Available at:
Denzin NK, Lincoln YS (2005). The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. (3rd ed.), Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. ISBN 0-7619-2757-3.
Grbich C (1999). Qualitative Research in Health: An Introduction. London: SAGE Publications Ltd.
Greenhalgh T (2010). How to read a paper: the basics of evidence-based medicine, (4th ed) BMJ Books, London.
Greenhalgh T, Taylor R (1997). How to read a paper: papers that go beyond numbers (qualitative research). Br. Med. J. 315(7110):740-743.
Holloway I, Wheeler S (2002). Qualitative Research in Nursing. (2nd ed), Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hunter D (2009). Relationship between evidence and policy: A case of evidence-based policy or policy-based evidence? Public Health 123(9):583-586.
Kemm J (2006). The limitations of 'evidence-based' public health. J. Eval. Clin. Pract. 12(3):319–324.
Killoran A, Kelly M (2004). Towards an evidence-based approach to tackling health inequalities: the English experience. Health Educ. J. 63(1):7-14.
Kintu P, Nanyunja M, Nzabanita A, Magoola R (2005). Development of HMIS in Poor Countries: Uganda as a Case Study. Health Policy Dev. J. 3(1):46-53.
Klein R (2003). Evidence and policy: interpreting the Delphic oracle. J. R. Soc. Med. 96(9):429-431.
Laban B (2011). Research paradigm: Critical Realism in Burrell and Morgan quadrants? Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Available at:
Makumbi F, Friedman M, Chijioke O, Mutebi A, Wabwire-Mangen F (2010). "Health Sector HIV/AIDS Response Review 2007 - 2010 HMIS Building Block". November 2010, Ministry of Health, Kampala, Uganda.
Miles MB, Huberman AM (1984). Qualitative data Analysis: A Sourcebook of New Methods. Beverly Hills, CA: SAGE
Miller RL, Brewer JD (2003). A – Z of Social Research: A Dictionary of Key Social Science Research Concepts. SAGE Publications Ltd.
Ministry of Health (2010). Uganda Health Sector Strategic Investment Plan III. Available at:
Ministry of Health (2014). Annual Health Sector Performance Report for Financial Year 2013/2014. Available at:
Murphy E, Dingwall R, Greatbatch D, Parker S, Watson P (1998) Qualitative research methods in health technology assessment: a review of the literature. Health Technol. Assess. 2(16):iii-ix, 1-274.
Nutbeam D, Boxall A (2008). What influences the transfer of research into health policy and practice? Observations from England and Australia. Public Health 122(8):747-753.
Onwuegbuzie A, Leech N (2005). On becoming a pragmatic researcher: The importance of combining quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Int. J. Soc. Res. Methodol. 8(5):375-387.
Ovretveit J (2007). Research-informed public health. In: Hunter DJ (ed.), Managing for Health. London: Routledge. pp. 129-148.
Pope C, Ziebland S, Mays N (2000). Qualitative research in healthcare: analyzing qualitative data. Br. Med. J. 320(7227):114-116.
Tugwell P, de Savigny D, Llawker G, Robinson V (2006). Applying clinical epidemiology methods to health equity: the equity effectiveness loop. Br. Med. J. 332:358-361.
Uganda National Health Research Organisation, UNHRO (2009). Health research in Uganda: Critical role. Presentation at UNACOH Annual Scientific Conference 24.09.09
Vasilachis de Gialdino I (2011). Ontological and Epistemological Foundations of Qualitative Research [85 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung/Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 10(2), Art. 30.
White M, Adams J, Heywood P (2009). How and why do interventions that increase health overall widen inequalities within populations? In: Babones S (ed.), Social Inequality and Public Health. Bristol: Policy Press. pp. 65-83.


APA Ramadhan, H. (2015). The challenges of qualitative research: Can it be used to strengthen decision making for health care in Uganda?. Medical Practice and Reviews, 6(3), 24-30.
Chicago Hizaamu Ramadhan. "The challenges of qualitative research: Can it be used to strengthen decision making for health care in Uganda?." Medical Practice and Reviews 6, no. 3 (2015): 24-30.
MLA Hizaamu Ramadhan. "The challenges of qualitative research: Can it be used to strengthen decision making for health care in Uganda?." Medical Practice and Reviews 6.3 (2015): 24-30.
DOI 10.5897/MPR.2014.0112

Subscription Form