Authors: Jane Noyes, Jennie Popay, Alan Pearson, Karin Hannes and Andrew Booth on behalf of the Cochrane Qualitative Research Methods Group.
Evidence from qualitative studies can play an important role in adding value to systematic reviews for policy, practice and consumer decision-making;
It is likely that outcome studies included in Cochrane reviews will have qualitative research embedded within, or associated with, them;
Qualitative research can contribute to Cochrane Intervention reviews in four ways:
Informing reviews by using evidence from qualitative research to help define and refine the question, and to ensure the review includes appropriate studies and addresses important outcomes;
Enhancing reviews by synthesising evidence from qualitative research identified whilst looking for evidence of effectiveness;
Extending reviews by undertaking a search to specifically seek out evidence from qualitative studies to address questions directly related to the effectiveness review; and
Supplementing reviews by synthesising qualitative evidence within a stand-alone, but complementary, qualitative review to address questions on aspects other than effectiveness.
There are many methods of qualitative evidence synthesis that are appropriate to the aims and scope of Cochrane Intervention reviews;
The synthesis of qualitative research is an area of debate and evolution. The Cochrane Qualitative Methods Group provides a forum for discussion and further development of methodology in this area.