Meta-Study as Diagnostic: Toward Content Over Form in Qualitative Synthesis

South West PeninsulaMetabolic and Endocrine
Published Date: 1 Dec 2015


Having previously conducted qualitative syntheses of the diabetes literature, we wanted to explore the changes in theoretical approaches, methodological practices, and the construction of substantive knowledge which have recently been presented in the qualitative diabetes literature. The aim of this research was to explore the feasibility of synthesizing existing qualitative syntheses of patient perspectives of diabetes using meta-study methodology. A systematic review of qualitative literature, published between 2000 and 2013, was conducted. Six articles were identified as qualitative syntheses. The meta-study methodology was used to compare the theoretical, methodological, analytic, and synthetic processes across the six studies, exploring the potential for an overarching synthesis. We identified that while research questions have increasingly concentrated on specific aspects of diabetes, the focus on systematic review processes has led to the neglect of qualitative theory and methods. This can inhibit the production of compelling results with meaningful clinical applications. Although unable to produce a synthesis of syntheses, we recommend that researchers who conduct qualitative syntheses pay equal attention to qualitative traditions and systematic review processes, to produce research products that are both credible and applicable.

Dr Ruth Garside