Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1995 Aug; 1(4): 113-7.
A basic introduction to medical research. Part II: An overview of different research methods.
Research Council for Complementary Medicine, London, UK.
Though health research has long been equated with the randomised control trial (RCT), there are, in fact, many different forms of research. These complement one another as different pieces in a jigsaw of evidence. Qualitative research can provide valuable insights into meaning, motivation, social significance and other aspects of patients' and practitioners' experience. Such data can be useful in the design of more quantitative research, such as surveys of attitudes or RCTs. Audits monitor and evaluate the quality of health care delivery and are an important means of ensuring the value of RCTs in everyday clinical practice. Laboratory research provides data on the mechanisms of a treatment or on its therapeutic effect in controlled conditions. This can provide a valuable background to subsequent clinical research. A prospective researcher should choose a methodology depending on the particular research question he or she wishes to ask: a good question immediately suggests the appropriate type of research.