Keeping up appearances: using qualitative research to enhance knowledge of dental practice.

Lynn M. Meadows, Anthony J. Verdi, Benjamin F. Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Current issues in dentistry including a focus on patients' wishes for outcomes and dentists' role in that process raise important questions that cannot be addressed by quantitative, statistical study alone. The intriguing complexities and ambiguities that are emerging with ever-improving techniques and materials in dentistry, as well as competing demands for attention in dental health, require a range of research methodologies to address important existing and future research questions. Qualitative research, much like what a dentist does in an office visit, can seem intuitive and almost common sense in nature. Yet behind that research, when it is done well, lie years of training and practice, rules of evidence, guidelines for rigor, and various subspecializations in its pursuit. Qualitative research begins with a clearly defined problem; identifies the appropriate strategy to gather data from people, existing documents, and other sources of information that will help address the problem; uses a multifaceted tool kit of analytic methods to work with those data; and proceeds to investigate the data for their insight into the research problem and interpretation of the findings. This article provides an overview of common approaches to qualitative methods and resources to explore their potential for dental research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-990
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental education
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2003
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Dentistry(all)

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