In nursing research, both quantitative and qualitative designs are actively applied to organize and implement a study in order to address a certain research question. Quantitative research designs, such as descriptive, correlational, experimental, as well as quasi-experimental ones, usually test a hypothesis with reference to a large population. They are based on applying questionnaires and surveys for collecting data and interventions for experiments along with statistical approaches to analyze data. As a result, numerical data are used to generalize findings for a large population. On the contrary, qualitative designs, including mostly phenomenology, narrative inquiry, and grounded theory, are oriented toward collecting subjective data on phenomena and perceptions related to a limited number of people (Rutberg & Bouikidis, 2018). If quantitative research designs are used to test theories and hypotheses to apply generalized data, qualitative designs allow for generating a theory and completing in-depth analysis of a phenomenon.
The example of a quantitative research design is a correlational study based on finding a relationship between independent and dependent variables. For instance, a study on the relationship between nurses’ provision of education for patients and their adherence to medications is a quantitative correlational study that may involve a large sample of participants. It is possible to use a questionnaire to collect data for testing hypotheses with the help of correlation and regression tests (Schmidt & Brown, 2019). The example of a qualitative research design is a phenomenological study aimed at determining nurses’ perceptions on the effectiveness of using alternative personal protective equipment in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, only a few nurses will be invited to participate in focus group discussions to research the problem. These examples demonstrate typical features of quantitative and qualitative research designs in contrast to each other.
Rutberg, S., & Bouikidis, C. D. (2018). Focusing on the fundamentals: A simplistic differentiation between qualitative and quantitative research. Nephrology Nursing Journal, 45(2), 209-213. Web.
Schmidt, N. A., & Brown, J. M. (2019). Evidence-based practice for nurses: Appraisal and application of research (4th ed.). Jones & Bartlett Learning.