D. Gastaldo, B. Gladstone, & M. Facey
Although qualitative research is a well-established scientific approach in the social sciences (with over a hundred and twenty years of development), it is a more recent approach to knowledge production in the health sciences. Qualitative health research is a subspecialty of qualitative research that developed in the shadow of the post-positivist understanding of science that underpins the health sciences. The learning and practice of qualitative health research require some fundamental knowledge of its historical origins in the social sciences, and of the contemporary, dominant perspectives associated with the health sciences. The evidence-based practice movement and the tendency of policymakers and program developers to favour positivist research are examples of this overriding perspective. The learning and practice of qualitative research also require an awareness of the poor scientific literacy of most health practitioners in relation to qualitative methods. We believe an interdisciplinary education and participation in a group of researchers who share an understanding of the particularities of qualitative research in the health sciences are paramount to becoming a qualitative health researcher. In other words, for graduate students and health professionals alike, professional development in this area requires opportunities for formal training, individual study, and connection with groups who practice qualitative health research.