Quantitative and qualitative are types of research designs. While the former is objective/measurable in nature, the latter is subjective/explorative. Quantitative research explains and tests the relationship between variables, by generating numerical data for statistical analysis. It establishes “statistically significant relationships, answers questions, measures and describes objective measurement and observational correlation/causation between variables” (Ingham-Broomfield, 2014). Examples of quantitative designs include “descriptive, correlational, experimental and Quasi-experimental with self-reporting tools, questionnaires, observation, and biophysical measures, etc. are instruments for data collection”. (Ingham-Broomfield, 2014). The outcome and data analysis of a quantitative research design is expressed in numbers and graphs and usually describes, synthesizes and show patterns/trends of data collected through inferential statistics which allows the investigator to infer whether research findings can be generalized” (Ingham-Broomfield, 2014).
On the other hand, qualitative research focuses on “understanding experiences and attitudes of subjects and answers questions about the ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘why’ of a phenomenon rather than ‘how many’ or ‘how much’, which are answered by quantitative methods” (Bloomfield and Fisher, 2019). Type of qualitative designs include narrative, phenomenological, grounded, ethnographic, historical, or case study and “recording, observation, one-on-one interviews, audio-video records, field notes, letters, photographs, diaries, etc. are incorporated for data collection” (Renjith, et al. 2021).
Overall, the quantitative design uses measurable numerical data that can be statistically analyzed to draw inferences and qualitative design uses non-numerical data to uncover the deeper meanings of human experiences, behaviors, emotions/opinions, and phenomena that are difficult to quantify.
If I were to conduct my own research study, I would use mixed design which incorporates both qualitative and quantitative techniques. My research questions will compare the effect of using antimicrobial wipes to soap and water for catheter care in the prevention of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI) in Long Term Acute Care patients. With the quantitative method, data on the quantity and rate of CAUTI infection can be utilized, while the qualitative method would examine the attitude/perception/behavior and knowledge of nurses on catheter insertion, management, and removal, as nurses play a critical role in CAUTI prevention.