Clustering Methods with Qualitative Data: a Mixed-Methods Approach for Prevention Research with Small Samples

Clustering Methods with Qualitative Data: a Mixed-Methods Approach for Prevention Research with... Qualitative methods potentially add depth to prevention research but can produce large amounts of complex data even with small samples. Studies conducted with culturally distinct samples often produce voluminous qualitative data but may lack sufficient sample sizes for sophisticated quantitative analysis. Currently lacking in mixed-methods research are methods allowing for more fully integrating qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques. Cluster analysis can be applied to coded qualitative data to clarify the findings of prevention studies by aiding efforts to reveal such things as the motives of participants for their actions and the reasons behind counterintuitive findings. By clustering groups of participants with similar profiles of codes in a quantitative analysis, cluster analysis can serve as a key component in mixed-methods research. This article reports two studies. In the first study, we conduct simulations to test the accuracy of cluster assignment using three different clustering methods with binary data as produced when coding qualitative interviews. Results indicated that hierarchical clustering, K-means clustering, and latent class analysis produced similar levels of accuracy with binary data and that the accuracy of these methods did not decrease with samples as small as 50. Whereas the first study explores the feasibility of using common clustering methods with binary data, the second study provides a “real-world” example using data from a qualitative study of community leadership connected with a drug abuse prevention project. We discuss the implications of this approach for conducting prevention research, especially with small samples and culturally distinct communities. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Prevention Science Springer Journals

Clustering Methods with Qualitative Data: a Mixed-Methods Approach for Prevention Research with Small Samples

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2015 by Society for Prevention Research
Subject
Medicine & Public Health; Public Health; Health Psychology; Child and School Psychology
ISSN
1389-4986
eISSN
1573-6695
D.O.I.
10.1007/s11121-015-0561-z
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Qualitative methods potentially add depth to prevention research but can produce large amounts of complex data even with small samples. Studies conducted with culturally distinct samples often produce voluminous qualitative data but may lack sufficient sample sizes for sophisticated quantitative analysis. Currently lacking in mixed-methods research are methods allowing for more fully integrating qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques. Cluster analysis can be applied to coded qualitative data to clarify the findings of prevention studies by aiding efforts to reveal such things as the motives of participants for their actions and the reasons behind counterintuitive findings. By clustering groups of participants with similar profiles of codes in a quantitative analysis, cluster analysis can serve as a key component in mixed-methods research. This article reports two studies. In the first study, we conduct simulations to test the accuracy of cluster assignment using three different clustering methods with binary data as produced when coding qualitative interviews. Results indicated that hierarchical clustering, K-means clustering, and latent class analysis produced similar levels of accuracy with binary data and that the accuracy of these methods did not decrease with samples as small as 50. Whereas the first study explores the feasibility of using common clustering methods with binary data, the second study provides a “real-world” example using data from a qualitative study of community leadership connected with a drug abuse prevention project. We discuss the implications of this approach for conducting prevention research, especially with small samples and culturally distinct communities.

Journal

Prevention ScienceSpringer Journals

Published: May 7, 2015

References

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