Creating Metasummaries of Qualitative Findings

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Abstract

Background

The translation and grounded theory techniques typically cited as the method for producing qualitative metasyntheses do not lend themselves well to qualitative survey findings as they do not contain the integrating concepts or controlling metaphors upon which these techniques depend.

Objectives

The purpose of this article is to describe a process for creating metasummaries of qualitative survey findings.

Methods

This article is based on completed work in an ongoing methodological study aimed at developing a usable and transparent protocol for combining the findings in reports of health-related qualitative studies. The sample for this work included 45 published and unpublished reports of qualitative studies of HIV-positive women with findings on motherhood, 39 of which contained findings in the form of surveys of data. Almost 800 findings were extracted. These extracted findings were reduced to 93 abstracted findings, and manifest frequency and intensity effect sizes were calculated.

Results

Five findings had effect sizes ranging from 25–60%, with both published and unpublished reports contributing about equally to the strength of these findings. Seventy-three findings had effect sizes of <9%, 47 of them with effect sizes of only 2%. In most of these cases, only one work contained the finding and these works had generally fewer space restrictions. Four reports with few space restrictions contained 63% of the findings across all 45 reports.

Conclusions

Qualitative metasummaries are useful end products of research integration studies involving reports of findings in the form of qualitative surveys, and may serve as a foundation for qualitative metasyntheses.

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