Developing and promoting qualitative methods in general practice research: Lessons learnt and strategies convened

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Fifty years ago, qualitative research methods were unknown in medicine. Biomedicine and the positivist paradigm were universal academic standards. In the late 1980s, however, humanist perspectives emerged as substantial values in general practice. This progress fostered an effort among Nordic general practitioners to find research methods best suited to exploring clinical communication and the doctor-patient relationship. Simultaneously, qualitative methods were promoted internationally in medicine, mostly by social scientists. This article is a personal narrative of the history and impact of Nordic general practitioners customising qualitative methods for the study of clinical practice. I present lessons learnt and strategies convened in developing qualitative methods in this Nordic context. The patient-centred method paved the way for research standards consistent with our clinical ontology. We struggled to develop dialogues that promoted methodological legitimacy among medical colleagues. Methodological standards like rigour and reflexivity became important and contributed to intersubjectivity by sharing the research process. Gradually, our endeavours gained notice. In the last couple of decades, the number of published qualitative studies has increased, though perhaps at the cost of methodological quality. Indeed, there are also indications of a methodological backlash among influential journal editors. Nordic general practitioners have been prominent in developing qualitative methods suitable for cultivation of medical knowledge. Our position of knowing, close to the experiences of the individual patient and the everyday context, is different from that of a social scientist. It offers a unique point of departure for knowledge development that can make an important difference for both patients and doctors.

BogserieScandinavian Journal of Public Health
Udgave nummer7
Sider (fra-til)1024-1033
Antal sider10
StatusUdgivet - 2022

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