Can rapid approaches to qualitative analysis deliver timely, valid findings to clinical leaders? A mixed methods study comparing rapid and thematic analysis

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  • Oxford Brookes University
  • Warneford Hospital


Objectives: This study compares rapid and traditional analyses of a UK health service evaluation dataset, to explore differences in researcher time, and consistency of outputs.Design: Mixed methods study, quantitatively and qualitatively comparing qualitative methodsSetting: Data from a home birth service evaluation study in a hospital in the English National Health Service which took place between October-December 2014. Two research teams independently analysed focus group and interview transcript data: one team used a Thematic Analysis approach using the Framework Method, and the second used Rapid Analysis.Participants: Home birth midwives (6), midwifery support workers (4), commissioners (4), managers (6), and community midwives (12) and a patient representative (1) participated in the original study.Interventions: NonePrimary outcome measures: Time taken to complete analysis in person hours; analysis findings and recommendations matched, partially matched, or not matched across the two teams.Results: Rapid Analysis data management took less time than Thematic Analysis (43 v 116.5 hours). Rapid Analysis took 100 hours, and Thematic Analysis 126.5 hours in total, with interpretation and write up taking much longer in the Rapid Analysis (52 v 8 hours). Rapid Analysis findings overlapped with 79% of Thematic Analysis findings, and Thematic Analysis overlapped with 63% of the Rapid Analysis findings. Rapid Analysis recommendations overlapped with 55% of those from the Thematic Analysis, and Thematic Analysis overlapped with 59% of the Rapid Analysis recommendations.Conclusions: Rapid Analysis delivered a modest time saving. Excessive time to interpret data in Rapid Analysis in this study may be due to differences between research teams. There was overlap in outputs between approaches, more in findings than recommendations. Rapid Analysis may have the potential to deliver valid, timely findings while taking less time. We recommend further comparisons using additional data sets with more similar research teams.Keywords Qualitative ResearchHealth Services Administration & ManagementMaternal Medicine


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere019993
JournalBMJ open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2018


  • Qualitative Research, Health Services Administration & Management, Maternal Medicine