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Qualitative research enables inquiry into processes and beliefs through exploration of narratives, personal experiences and language.1 Its findings can inform and improve healthcare decisions by providing information about peoples’ perceptions, beliefs, experiences and behaviour, and augment quantitative analyses of effectiveness data. The results of qualitative research can inform stakeholders about facilitators and obstacles to exercise, motivation and adherence, the influence of experiences, beliefs, disability and capability on physical activity, exercise engagement and performance, and to test strategies that maximise physical performance.
High-quality qualitative research can also enrich interpretation of quantitative analyses and be pooled in metasyntheses for evaluation of strength of evidence; contribute to the development and implementation of clinical decision support aids, outcome measures and clinical practice guidelines2 such as the UK National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines (www.nice.org.uk) and Ottawa Panel guidelines for knee osteoarthritis3; and inform health and social care.4
In 2000, just 0.6% of papers in 170 general medical, mental health …
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