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Rigorous qualitative research in sports, exercise and musculoskeletal medicine journals is important and relevant
  1. Susan C Slade1,2,
  2. Shilpa Patel3,
  3. Martin Underwood3,
  4. Jennifer L Keating1
  1. 1 Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  2. 2 La Trobe Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine Research, School of Allied Health/College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 Division of Health Sciences, Warwick Clinical Trials Unit, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Susan C Slade, Department of Physiotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, VIC 3128, Australia; susan.slade{at}

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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 ( 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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  • Contributors All authors have contributed to this editorial and approved the final manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.