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A case study on methodological pluralism in public health research in Africa

Authors Ridde V

Published 22 September 2010 Volume 2010:1 Pages 25—35


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Valéry Ridde1,2,3
1Research Centre of the University of Montreal Hospital Centre (CRCHUM), Canada; 2Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montréal, Canada; 3Institut de Recherche en Science de la Santé (IRSS) du CNRST, Burkina Faso

Abstract: Like the field of medicine from which it emanates, public health is more a process of intervention than a research activity. As such, the premise of this empirical article is that public health is not a science. The corollary to this is that studies in public health must draw upon many scientific disciplines and must therefore employ a methodological pluralism, given the complexity of the subjects under study. To illustrate this view, we analyzed a posteriori, in the manner in which we carried out a doctoral research study on a development health policy implementation gap in Burkina Faso. We based this analysis on Yin’s suggestion that the more pluralism is used in each research procedure during the whole research process, the more the study could be labeled pluralist. The present article demonstrates our attempts to be as integrative as possible and to use pluralism at every step. We used an embedded design in which quantitative data play a supportive, secondary role in a study based primarily on qualitative data, such that the design could be summarized as QUAL (quan). Methodological pluralism appears primordial in public heath and development research, and the academic world must adapt to this requirement, particularly in terms of training students in interdisciplinary and mixed methods approaches.

Keywords: pluralism, public health, Burkina Faso

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