Diversity of the Quality Criteria in Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences: Lessons From a Lexicometric Analysis Composed of 133 Guidelines


  • Marie Santiago Delefosse University of Lausanne
  • Christine Bruchez University of Lausanne
  • Amaelle Gavin University of Lausanne
  • Sarah Lilian Stephen University of Lausanne




qualitative research evaluation, quality criteria, health sciences, lexicometric analysis, Alceste®


A review of health sciences literature shows a substantial increase in qualitative publications. This work incorporates a certain number of research quality guidelines. We present the results of the Alceste® lexicometric analysis, which includes 133 quality grids for qualitative research covering five disciplinary fields of the health sciences: medicine and epidemiology, public health and health education, nursing, health sociology and anthropology, psychiatry and psychology. This analysis helped to cross-check the disciplinary fields with the various objectives assigned to the different criteria in the grids examined. The results obtained with Alceste® show the variability of the objectives sought by the authors of the guidelines. These discrepancies are not directly associated to disciplinary fields, and appear to be more closely linked to different qualitative research conceptualizations within the disciplines, and with essential qualitative research validation criteria. These conceptualizations must be clarified to help users better understand the objectives targeted by the grids, and promote more appreciation for qualitative research in the health sciences.

URN: http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1502110


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Author Biographies

Marie Santiago Delefosse, University of Lausanne

Marie SANTIAGO DELEFOSSE has been a full professor in health psychology at the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) since 2003. She was a practicing general hospital psychologist for a decade. In 1992, she was appointed as a senior lecturer in the French university system, where she worked until 2003. Her empirical research (fertility, HIV, chronic pain, etc.) has led her to propose an alternative theorization of the biopsychosocial model. Her work pays particular attention to the history of ideas and to epistemology in psychology; it is mostly qualitative and based on a historico-cultural and phenomenological approach. She is the author of more than 100 articles and several books, including "Psychologie de la santé: Perspectives qualitatives et cliniques" [Health Psychology: Qualitative and Clinical Perspectives], 2002, Brussels: Mardaga, and "Méthodes qualitatives en psychologie" [Qualitative Methods in Psychology], ed. by SANTIAGO DELEFOSSE and ROUAN, 2001, Paris: Dunod.

Christine Bruchez, University of Lausanne

Christine BRUCHEZ has been a teaching assistant, then research coordinator, in health psychology at the University of Lausanne since January 2004. She holds a master's degree in arts (1995) and a master's degree in psychology (2002). She has also completed a DESS (Advanced Graduate Diploma) in clinical psychology (University of Geneva) and is currently a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Marie SANTIAGO DELEFOSSE, Her DESS thesis (2005) has led to her collaboration on the validation of assessment frames in the field of health-related quality of life. Trained in computer-assisted text analysis (Alceste® software), she also received in-depth training in discourse analysis (modern French literature and linguistics). Her research interests in epistemology and methodology have led her towards the comparison of qualitative methods and the experimenting with new research tools in psychology, as well as the analysis of modes of communication on Internet health forums. She has also carried out a preliminary study on the dissemination of qualitative research in psychology on the Internet.

Amaelle Gavin, University of Lausanne

Amaelle GAVIN has been research coordinator in health psychology at the University of Lausanne since October 2012. She obtained her master's degree in psychology in 2013 and is currently training in clinical sexology at the University of Geneva. Since February 2015, she is a PhD candidate under the supervision of Prof. Marie SANTIAGO DELEFOSSE at the University of Lausanne. Her different trainings allowed her to develop skills and interests in various subjects and domains, such as sexology, couple counseling, ethics, critical health psychology, qualitative research among others.

Sarah Lilian Stephen, University of Lausanne

Sarah STEPHEN worked as a Junior SNSF (Swiss National Science Foundation) researcher in an SNSF-funded project (2011-2014), directed by Professor SANTIAGO DELEFOSSE at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Lausanne. Since 2011, she is also a PhD student based at the Faculty of Business and Economics at the University of Lausanne. Her interests include quality of quantitative and qualitative research and interdisciplinary research methods, as well as paradigms underlying research.




How to Cite

Santiago Delefosse, M., Bruchez, C., Gavin, A., & Stephen, S. L. (2015). Diversity of the Quality Criteria in Qualitative Research in the Health Sciences: Lessons From a Lexicometric Analysis Composed of 133 Guidelines. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 16(2). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-16.2.2275