Qualitative research methods have the capacity to generate useful insights into complex causation of many of our major health issues and contribute to epidemiology.

Research on this subject conducted by Ausvet’s Senior Epidemiology Consultant, Dr Melanie Bannister-Tyrrell has just been published. The paper discusses the theories of causal inference and the contributions to health outcomes a broader understanding of social, cultural and behavioural patterns and experiences can have. Using evidence from qualitative research will support epidemiologists as they explore the causes of diseases.

The paper is available https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annepidem.2020.07.008

Increasingly, modern epidemiology has adopted complex causal frameworks incorporating individual- and population-level determinants of health. Despite the growing use of qualitative methodologies in public health research generally, discussion of causal reasoning in epidemiology rarely considers evidence derived from qualitative research. This article argues for a coherent role of qualitative research within epidemiology through analysis of the principles of causal reasoning that underlie current debates about causal inference in epidemiology. There is a clear role and need for qualitative methods and research to become recognised and practiced as being an integral part of epidemiology.

Melanie and colleague, Lana Meiqari argue that such evidence can contribute to a mechanistic understanding of causal relations and to understanding the effects of context on health-related outcomes. They also discuss this approach in light of previous literature on the role of qualitative research in epidemiology and implications for future epidemiologic research.

To find out more about Melanie and her experience you can visit the following links: https://www.linkedin.com/in/melanie-bannister-tyrrell-66371272/ and https://www.ausvet.com.au/our-people/melaniebt/