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Quantitative and Qualitative Research Critique



Quantitative and Qualitative Research Critique

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is regarded as an abrupt and an unanticipated experience that results in shock and one in which a child’s life is threatened, or integrity of the body is placed at risk. PSTD events are characterized by feelings of terror and helplessness. Traumatic events in children or older adults are perceived as natural disasters or ongoing violence on a person such as physical violence and sexual abuse. A majority of children exposed to traumatic events early in life may experience substantial adverse impacts that hamper their cognitive, physical, psychological, emotional, interpersonal relationships, and behavioral function problems. The purpose of this paper is to provide a critique of quantitative and qualitative PTSD research.

Quantitative and Qualitative Research

From the quantitative research conducted by Deihle et al. (2015) in which they sought to compare the effectiveness of trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy (TF-CBT) and EMDR in children with post-traumatic stress symptoms, the researchers utilized a randomized controlled trial method carried out in a Dutch outpatient health facility. The problem of the research was that TF-CBT is an established PTSS treatment therapy in children. However, it is important to utilize alternative therapies for TF-CBT non-responders or if qualified TF-CBT therapists are unavailable. EMDR is a valuable treatment therapy for which research evidence was lacking. Thus, the researchers focused on conducting an investigation of the efficacy of EMDR and TF-CBT. In the qualitative research by Williamson et al. (2016), the researcher stated the research problem by explaining that little is known about how parents provide needed support to children during traumatic events although they are their main source of support. The aim of the study was to investigate parents’ experiences of supporting their children following exposure to traumatic events. The study utilized semi structured qualitative interviews. The study was also approved by a National Health Ethics Committee and the Bath University Ethics Committee. 20 children and their parents were recruited following attendance and purposive sampling was used.

The study by Deihle et al. (2015) utilized randomization. The differences between the two methods are that the randomized controlled trial used participant blinding while the qualitative study selectively included the research participants based on certain characteristics. The identified advantages of the qualitative study include the ability to thematically analyze deep parental perceptions about their experiences in offering their children support following exposure to traumatic events. Obtained data had a predictive quality since it was based on individual parents’ perceptions, thoughts and experiences. The sample size was smaller, which was cost effective and time saving. However, the gathered data was highly subjective since the researcher was only able to obtain emerging themes from the data unlike quantifiable measures used in quantitative research (Williamson et al., 2016). For instance, a significant portion of the gathered data was based on parental perceptions and experiences. With thematic analyses, data rigidity is more difficult to evaluate. Also, the qualitative research gathered critical data that was difficult to present. The data is voluminous and can pose several challenges to the investigators. For example, several direct quotes had to be included in the thematic analyses of the study. Also, the study is ungeneralizable to other settings since the data and analyses are specific to the research setting in which they were collected and analyzed.

The main advantage observed with the quantitative research was that it was based on factual and objective data in addition to numerical measures. For example, for the outcome’s measures children were interviewed using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and adolescents (CAPS-CA), unlike in the qualitative study where data was mainly subjective. Blinding involved in the randomization process ensured elimination of participant or researcher biases and promoted research validity. Moreover, qualitative research applied a deductive method of forming a hypothesis and applying controlled and objective testing to accept or reject the hypothesis. For instance, Deihle et al. (2015), in their quantitative study hypothesized that on the basis of past RCTs, it has been claimed that EMDR is as effective as CBT as and more efficient than CBT. However, although the quantitative research could provide explanations of the effectiveness of TF-CBT and EMDR in treatment of PTSD in children, it could not offer deep and insightful explanations of why these treatments were both effective. This is because it is difficult to measure human behavior using controlled natural settings given that instruments are prone to errors.

Qualitative research is real research because it utilizes a scientific observation method to collect non-numerical data. It involves utilization of multiple qualitative approaches and includes research constructs and methodologies from several established academic disciplines. These methodologies are based on scientific principles and therefore, qualitative research cannot be dismissed as un real research. In addition, researches are tasked to investigate which of the tow methodologies is applicable to particular types of research as qualitative research is used when a researcher intends to collect rich and in-depth data about a phenomenon in the society or human behavior. Polit and Beck (2017) argue that qualitative research can form the basis of a hypothesis for a quantitative research based on collected detailed data and information. It also validates objective quantitative numbers and adds human element and voice to quantitative studies which cannot fully answer open ended research questions. Quantitative research can offer researchers with factual and objective data and information based on numerical facts which can be generalized to several research settings. On the other hand, qualitative research can provide a researcher with deep insights about a phenomenon and human experiences related to the phenomenon in a way that an empirical research may not be able to gather or analyze the data. Hence, data obtained from a qualitative study is often richer and more descriptive since it is collected by structured interviews, case studies, cultural immersions, and observations.


Diehle, J., Opmeer, B., Boer, F., Mannarino, A., & Lindauer, R. (2015). Trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing: What works in children with posttraumatic stress symptoms? A randomized controlled trial. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry24(2), 227–236. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-014-0572-5

Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2017). Nursing research: Generating and assessing evidence for nursing practice (10th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolters Kluwer.

Williamson, V., Creswell, C., Butler, I., Christie, H., & Halligan, S. L. (2016). Parental responses to child experiences of trauma following presentation at emergency departments: A qualitative study. BMJ open6(11), 1-10.

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