Qualitative Methods

The Qualitative Methods Center helps to ensure the rigor, validity and replicability of Abt Associates research using qualitative data – any type of non-numeric, open-ended information, such as written text, photographs, audio recording, observations, videos, and interviews. The center is a community of methodologists from across Abt who create trainings, tools, resources, and professional development opportunities for global qualitative research.
Qualitative data collection techniques include site visits and structured observation, focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, commercial market research, ethnography – the study of human cultures – and other sources. Qualitative research methods are important for gleaning insight, understanding nuances, and uncovering important problems in health care, economic development, public policy, and other fields. Qualitative methods are often used in program evaluation to deepen understanding about program participants and their experiences.
Some of qualitative questions Abt has tackled include:
NVIVOCenter members also have trained the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in using NVivo to analyze qualitative data. Center co-Directors offered a course at the 2013 annual meeting of the American Public Health Association on using qualitative research software to increase the rigor of analysis. Center members also are looking at new ways to leverage technology, such as web-based focus group and bulletin board discussions, smartphone and tablet ethnography and qualitative research, and analyzing social media data to understand trends in behavior.
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Center Directors

Lisa LeroyLisa LeRoy, a principal associate in Abt’s U.S. Health division, has more than 25 years of experience as a qualitative researcher in health services research. She has been the co-director of the Qualitative Methods Center at Abt Associates for 10 years, providing thought leadership across the company in the design, data collection and analysis of qualitative methods.

LeRoy has a bachelor’s in History from Boston College, an MBA in Health Care Management from Boston University and a PhD in Social Policy from Brandeis University.