Qualitative Research into Mental Health: Reflections on Epistemology

Stephen Joseph, Charlotte Beer, David Clarke, Allan Forman, Martyn Pickersgill, Judy Swift, John Taylor, Victoria Tischler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 2005, the Qualitative Methods in Psychosocial Health Research Group (QMiPHR) at the University of Nottingham was established as a forum to bring together academics, researchers and practitioners with an interest in qualitative methods. The group has provided colleagues in nutrition, psychiatry, psychology, social work and sociology with a forum for discussion around the question of how qualitative research is able to contribute to understanding mental health and the development of evidence‐based treatment. As a group, we asked ourselves where we stood in relation to the use of qualitative methods in mental health. While we are unified in our view that qualitative research is important and under‐utilised in mental health research, our discussions uncovered a range of views on the underlying philosophical stance of what it means to be a qualitative researcher in mental health. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of our discussions and our view that as qualitative approaches have become more widely accepted they have largely been assimilated within the mainstream ‘medical model’ of research. In this paper, we call for researchers to re‐engage with the philosophical discussion on the role and purpose of qualitative enquiry as it applies to mental health, and for practitioners and decision‐makers to be aware of the implicit values underpinning research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-42
JournalMental Health Review Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2009


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