Qualitative and quantitative research methods are two different outlets to conduct research and collect data. Qualitative research is developed upon “ideas and evidence drawn from personal observations, interviews, or texts augmented by the researchers’ own ideas or logic” and quantitative research includes “hypotheses yielding numerically stated values of observed data” (Rosenberry & Vicker, 2017). Both outlets provide researchers with an amazing opportunity to prove their theories and potentially provide new ways to understand mass communications.
An example of qualitative research that has contributed to the mass communication world is a study on the development of health messages for under-deserved populations. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the benefits of using visual and participatory research techniques toward health messaging development which targeted older Hispanic women. Observations of physical activity among the participants were assessed using a visual research method known as photo-elicitation.
An additional qualitative research method included in-depth interviews to better understand the physical needs of the under-deserved population at hand. The results indicate and recommend that strategic health communications activities for under represented communities should be increased to improve overall health literacy and reduce health disparities throughout the country.
An example of quantitative research that has also contributed to the mass communication world with an interest in the health field is a content analysis of health messages in U.S. media from 1985 to 2005. This content analysis examined health messages in the mass media, excluding the Internet, and evolved into a systematic review of the literature to document characteristics of health-related quantitative content analysis studies. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were applied to 12,442 articles. The study found magazines and television to be the most frequently studied media types, followed by newspapers and movies. Video games and music were the least commonly analyzed media types. Content analysis of health messages has grown in popularity and this study has identified potential content areas or media formats that require more attention and research that will directly impact healthy policy.
The two studies researched different parts of the health field through various efforts, but both contributed to the mass communication field and bettering communication efforts for the betterment of society. Although both provided great suggestions for future communications endeavorers, the first study mentioned which focused on quantitative research, provided a clearer method and a more personal outcome. It’s important that research relating to society in terms of health and communications is personal and provides real-world experiences. The qualitative research did just that!