Defining exploratory-descriptive qualitative (EDQ) research and considering its application to healthcare

David J. Hunter, Jacqueline McCallum, Dora Howes

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This article aims to introduce readers to a distinctive approach to health research when the topic under investigation has received little previous attention. It provides details of the theoretical underpinnings of the methodology, as well as providing recommendations regarding the practicalities of its use. To address a specific research aim, the primary author believed that an exploratory descriptive qualitative approach was the most suitable. A subsequent review of the relevant literature identified a number of published research articles, which claimed to use an "exploratory descriptive qualitative" design. Closer inspection revealed that these papers lacked theoretical underpinning. As a result, the authors created a conceptual framework, underpinned by appropriate theory, to support the use of an exploratory descriptive qualitative approach. We refer to this approach as EDQ and argue that there is a place in health research when it is deemed the most appropriate methodology to achieve the aims of a study.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalGSTF Journal of Nursing and Health Care
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • exploratory descriptive research
  • qualitative
  • methodology


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