Unlike research studies in other fields, studies in health and social sciences involving the use of human subjects requires greater caution. The Helsinki Declaration of the World Medical Association declares that, though progress in health-related fields requires research and experimentation involving the use of human subjects, considerations related to the 'well being of the human subjects should take precedence over science and the society' and that the primary objective of such studies, involving human subjects, is to better understand and improve on diagnostic and therapeutic procedures, and to better understand the causes and progression of diseases (WMA, 2000).
Furthermore, the drive towards evidence-based practice in several fields has also meant that professional decision must be made on the basis of the best available evidence (Crawford et al., 2002). Putting all these factors together, it becomes obvious that making use of the most appropriate research instruments/methodology is not only important for the validity of the final result, but also for the utility and relevance of the result findings to professional practice. This fact has meant that deciding the best research methodology for any particular research effort is one of the most important decisions of a researcher.
Obviously in response to this trend, over the decades, several research methods have been developed, while existing ones have been continually refined to meet the demands of the modern researcher. However, quantitative and qualitative research methodologies though composed of an array of several, and at times contrasting principles; have stood the test of time, in a number of research fields (Murphy, 2000).
Therefore, the purpose of this essay is to argue in favour of the use of qualitative and quantitative research methods/methodologies to assess 100 risk factors collected over a period of five years based on interviews and considered as the primary data for a research study. To achieve this, the rest of the paper will be structured thus: the next section will define and briefly explain the concepts of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies; this will be followed by an analysis of the difference and similarities of these two methods of inquiry. The third section will examine the benefits of using qualitative and quantitative research methods in the research study at hand that is, assessing 100 risk factors collected over a five year period through interviews; in the light of other research methods like phenomenology and others. This is intended to show that qualitative and quantitative research methods are better suited for the study at hand. The last part of the essay will present the concluding remarks.
According to Lindsay (2002), considering the fact that the ultimate goal of risk assessment is to achieve a health impact, through understanding the aetiology of disease conditions to effect a reduction in mortality and morbidity due to the risks, and thus, achieve an improvement in health (p.571), research studies involved with risk assessment are therefore better presented and more useful in quantifiable terms. As a result,