Applying qualitative data in a research project provides a complete comprehension of the barriers and issues facing the health of a community and could also assist in informing the planning of interventions and programs that promote health. Even though there are several instances in research articles which use quantitative data in program planning, few kinds of literature explicitly exhibit the use of qualitative data, like a collection of data through windshield tours, in-depth interviews, focus groups, or literature analysis in program planning and need assessment. Applying qualitative needs assessment methods instead of purely informed data is essential to understanding several community needs and issues. Although figures are useful in showing the statistics of community efforts, progress, and comparisons, they cannot describe the relationships, feelings, opinions, or motives of the affected group. This part of the project explains why and how qualitative data collection method is used in needs assessment and how they help in community planning.
How to Carry Out the Needs Assessment
In needs assessment and program planning, choosing to apply qualitative methods over quantitative is partially inclined by the type of data the project requires, the participants and programs context. For instance, in this project which attempts to address the health issue of homelessness in the Hawaiian population, qualitative data is applied to assess the conditions which contribute to the health issue, whereas quantitative data would be useful if the project wanted to determine the distribution and prevalence of the problem.
This project focuses on the application of qualitative strategies to give information basing on data collected by the state of Hawaii from the citizens own perspective on the issue of homelessness and from articles reporting research on the same problem by trying to hold on to the phenomena in a comprehensive manner. This approach is preferred to quantitative approaches since qualitative methods give way for a detailed and in-depth understanding of the beliefs and experiences of members of a community (Brief, 2012). While quantitative data can inform research on how many people are homeless in Hawaii, it cannot tell why or what leads to their homelessness. Hence qualitative data is applied to answer the why and how questions effectively and provides more insight into the issue.
Qualitative Data Collection Used for Needs Assessment
Collection of qualitative data is through strategies such as conducting focus groups, one-on-one interviews, observations, and documented works. It is more of an exploratory approach since it is applied in cases where we do not know how to describe the problems, the expectations, or fail to understand how and why people are affected by a health issue such as homelessness. Collecting and analyzing qualitative data needs commitment, expertise, resources and time on behalf of all the stages in the project. Collection of data from diverse archived sources might at times result in different outcomes (WHO, 2001). For instance, as found in this research, data from surveys can imply that the Hawaiians are equipped with reliable and adequate health services whereas interviews might show that those services are insufficient. Typically, this challenge provides a chance of developing a more complex comprehension of community dynamics and issues that are visible by applying a single data collection method. The main reason for using documented qualitative data is because they can better address specific dimensions of community needs assessment.
From Whom and Where to Collect Data
State or institutional records are material generated and archived for purposes of providing an account of things or attesting to specific events. Qualitative data from public records are gathered from within or outside the setting in which the needs assessment or research is taking place. For this reason, this project tends to collect data from documents; official reports and publications from the state of Hawaii, program records, institutional clinical and academic records, and student-reflection papers or thesis. This project will collect data from external sources to get information on vital statistics reports, which help in managing and evaluating information about the broader Hawaiian community and trends of homelessness in the state. Nevertheless, secondary archived sources are a rich source of information and provide an essential basis for any need's assessment project (Farquhar, 2006). The existing records usually give a better understanding of a group of people and setting which is not easy to observe or note in any other way.
Generally, data collection through qualitative methods is applicable at any stage of the assessing community needs and the process of program planning and could bring about significant insights into the group and community dynamics, possible points of intervention, priority health concerns, and the analysis of the planned interventions processes and outcomes. Therefore, the skill development in the gathering and assessment of qualitative data are a crucial factor in health promotion training and awareness programs. Advocates of health could take part in collaborating with community members and health practitioners in applying these methods in designing, implementing, and evaluating interventions which might be culturally competent and appropriate in improving quality of life and health of the Hawaiians.
Brief, A. I. (2012). Qualitative and Quantitative Research Techniques for Humanitarian Needs Assessment. Retrieved from https://www.acaps.org/sites/acaps/files/resources/files/qualitative_and_quantitative_research_techniques_for_humanitarian_needs_assessment-an_introductory_brief_may_2012.pdf
Farquhar, S. A., Parker, E. A., Schulz, A. J., & Israel, B. A. (2006). Application of qualitative methods in program planning for health promotion interventions. Health Promotion Practice, 7(2), 234-242. Doi:10.1177/1524839905278915
World Health Organization. (2001). Community Health Needs Assessment: An introductory guide for the family health nurse in Europe. Retrieved from http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/102249/E73494.pdf
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