In the past three decades, qualitative and participatory research methods have attracted increasing attention in global health. They both aim to generate knowledge from the perspectives of the researched. In participatory research this is strongly linked to the notion of “handing over the stick” and allowing people to identify their own local needs and priorities. This can be particularly useful when considering developing community-based health services and programme development. Qualitative research also aims to generate knowledge and information that represent the perceptions, understandings, concepts and practices of different groups. Below are some examples of how qualitative and participatory research methods have been used in global health:

• the developm ent of specific disease control strategies,
• to plan, develop and evaluate health promotion strategies,
• to understand how people’s (men, women, girls and boys) lives can shape their decision making in relation to health,
• to develop problem-solving strategies in the management of health systems, and in assessing community health needs,


We have put together a collection of nine sessions (each session includes a brief introduction, PowerPoint with key information and suggested further readings) to help guide researchers through qualitative and participatory research studies. The over all aim of these articles is to blend the theory and practice of undertaking qualitative and participatory research. Access the sessions here.

Within these sessions you will find discussion of the underlying theory as well as practical information about:

• the planning and design of qualitative and participatory research studies
• using specific qualitative research methods (interviews, focus group discussions and participatory and action research tools)
• key steps for carrying out analysis of qualitative and participatory data
• Different ways of presenting research findings
• discussion of ethics and rigour throughout the research process

We want these sessions to be useful and respond to users needs, so please contact us if you would like to see additional materials. We also have a dedicated page for users to share any thoughts or experiences of using these research approaches. You can also use these pages to ask questions or seek clarification. Click here for discussions.