Using qualitative mixed methods to study small health care organizations while maximizing trustworthiness and authenticity

Christine B Phillips, Kathryn Dwan, Julie Hepworth, Christopher Pearce, Sally Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The primary health care sector delivers the majority of health care in western countries through small, community-based organizations. However, research into these healthcare organizations is limited by the time constraints and pressure facing them, and the concern by staff that research is peripheral to their work. We developed Q-RARA-Qualitative Rapid Appraisal, Rigorous Analysis-to study small, primary health care organizations in a way that is efficient, acceptable to participants and methodologically rigorous. Methods: Q-RARA comprises a site visit, semi-structured interviews, structured and unstructured observations, photographs, floor plans, and social scanning data. Data were collected over the course of one day per site and the qualitative analysis was integrated and iterative. Results: We found Q-RARA to be acceptable to participants and effective in collecting data on organizational function in multiple sites without disrupting the practice, while maintaining a balance between speed and trustworthiness. Conclusions: The Q-RARA approach is capable of providing a richly textured, rigorous understanding of the processes of the primary care practice while also allowing researchers to develop an organizational perspective. For these reasons the approach is recommended for use in small-scale organizations both within and outside the primary health care sector.

Original languageEnglish
Article number559
Number of pages13
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Publication statusPublished - 19 Nov 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Mixed method research
  • Organizations
  • Primary health care
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Qualitative research

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