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Title: A comparison of methods for the systematic review of qualitative research : two examples using meta-ethnography and meta-study
Author: Garside, Ruth
ISNI:       0000 0001 3491 5952
Awarding Body: Universities of Exeter and Plymouth
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2008
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Systematic reviews and meta-analyses have been a central pillar of evidence-based practice and policy-making in healthcare over recent years. Traditionally, this has focused on effectiveness evidence from trials.. There is increasing understanding, however, that other study designs also provide essential information and this has led to interest in developing ways to review and synthesis such evidence. Qualitative research has unique potential to illuminate the patient experience. This research has three aims: 1) To review and compare the proposed methods of systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research. 2) To develop and assess two methods of systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research. 3) To compare these two methods and suggest how they might be used in a policy-making context. In addressing these aims, this thesis substantially contributes to debates about the purpose and practice of systematic review and synthesis of qualitative research, particularly in the context of health technology assessment and related pOlicy-making. I undertake a unique critical comparison of the methods suggested for reviewing and synthesising qualitative research, based on their approach to key stages of systematic review. This is used to produce a comprehensive framework for good practice~ I use the framework in two systematic reviews, one about heavy menstrual bleeding using meta-ethnography, and one about hysterectomy using meta-study. These two reviews allow a comparison of the two methods, and in particular explore the impact of expanding the meta-ethnography approach through meta-study, which adds explicit steps to assess the impact of study methodology and theory on findings. The ability of meta-study to unpack the procedures and theories that produce particular findings is key and illuminates the importance of theory in systematic reviews of qualitative research. Through the two systematic reviews, my thesis also contributes to understanding of these reproductive health topic areas through the creation of new insights and concepts from the synthesis. The synthesis of heavy menstrual bleeding studies produced a detailed patient illness model based on women's experiences. In addition, it allowed an understanding of elements that contribute to women's certainty or uncertainty about whether or not their periods could be seen as problematic and requiring medical help. This helps to establish the limitations of the medical model for doctors, as well as women who suffer from heavy menstrual bleeding. The synthesis of hysterectomy studies produced a detailed description of the journey that women make to, and through, hysterectomy, based on their experiences. I also created a theoretical framework, which shows that hysterectomy needs to be understood in the context of personal, physical experiences, together with sociocultural forces that affect the way in which hysterectomy is experienced, and that the interaction of these micro- and macro-concerns mediate through, and affect, relationships with key other people. Methodology affected the research questions posed and the conclusions of research. Comparing the two methods of review and synthesis showed the importance of taking account of the methods and theories that produce research findings. However this additional detail may be at the expense of certainty and requires additional resources.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: systematic review ; Meta-analysis ; Qualitative Research ; policy-making ; hysterectomy ; menstrual bleeding ; evidence based practice