Ideographic approach to analysis Table 1: Features of methods of research synthesis  The four methods at the top of Table 1 are aggregative, whilst the four methods at the bottom of the table utilise primary data sets that have usually been collected by the same researcher or research team although this is not always the case with secondary analysis.
This article has been cited by other articles in PMC. Abstract Background There is a growing recognition of the value of synthesising qualitative research in the evidence base in order to facilitate effective and appropriate health care. In response to this, methods for undertaking these syntheses are currently being developed.
Thematic analysis is a method that is often used to analyse data in primary qualitative research. This paper reports on the use of this type of analysis in systematic reviews to bring together and integrate the findings of multiple qualitative studies.
Methods We describe thematic synthesis, outline several steps for its conduct and illustrate the process and outcome of this approach using a completed review of health promotion research. Thematic synthesis has three stages: While the development of descriptive themes remains 'close' to the primary studies, the analytical themes represent a stage of interpretation whereby the reviewers 'go beyond' the primary studies and generate new interpretive constructs, explanations or hypotheses.
The use of computer software can facilitate this method of synthesis; detailed guidance is given on how this can be achieved. Results We used thematic synthesis to combine the studies of children's views and identified key themes to explore in the intervention studies.
Most interventions were based in school and often combined learning about health benefits with 'hands-on' experience. The studies of children's views suggested that fruit and vegetables should be treated in different ways, and that messages should not focus on health warnings.
Interventions that were in line with these suggestions tended to be more effective. Thematic synthesis enabled us to stay 'close' to the results of the primary studies, synthesising them in a transparent way, and facilitating the explicit production of new concepts and hypotheses.
Conclusion We compare thematic synthesis to other methods for the synthesis of qualitative research, discussing issues of context and rigour. Thematic synthesis is presented as a tried and tested method that preserves an explicit and transparent link between conclusions and the text of primary studies; as such it preserves principles that have traditionally been important to systematic reviewing.
Background The systematic review is an important technology for the evidence-informed policy and practice movement, which aims to bring research closer to decision-making [ 12 ].
This type of review uses rigorous and explicit methods to bring together the results of primary research in order to provide reliable answers to particular questions [ 3 - 6 ].
The picture that is presented aims to be distorted neither by biases in the review process nor by biases in the primary research which the review contains [ 7 - 10 ]. Systematic review methods are well-developed for certain types of research, such as randomised controlled trials RCTs.
Methods for reviewing qualitative research in a systematic way are still emerging, and there is much ongoing development and debate [ 11 - 14 ]. In this paper we present one approach to the synthesis of findings of qualitative research, which we have called 'thematic synthesis'. We have developed and applied these methods within several systematic reviews that address questions about people's perspectives and experiences [ 15 - 18 ].
However, policy makers and other review users also posed questions about intervention need, appropriateness and acceptability, and factors influencing intervention implementation. To address these questions, our reviews began to include a wider range of research, including research often described as 'qualitative'.
In practice it is often difficult to classify research as being either 'qualitative' or 'quantitative' as much research contains aspects of both [ 19 - 22 ]. Because the term is in common use, however, we will employ it in this paper.
When we started the work for our first series of reviews which included qualitative research in [ 23 - 26 ], there was very little published material that described methods for synthesising this type of research.
We therefore experimented with a variety of techniques borrowed from standard systematic review methods and methods for analysing primary qualitative research [ 15 ].
In later reviews, we were able to refine these methods and began to apply thematic analysis in a more explicit way.Qualitative metasynthesis is an intentional and coherent approach to analyzing data across qualitative studies.
It is a process that enables researchers to identify a specific research question and then search for, select, appraise, summarize, and combine qualitative evidence to address the research question. Jul 10, · Some may argue against the synthesis of qualitative research on the grounds that the findings of individual studies are de-contextualised and that concepts identified in one setting are not applicable to others.
However, the act of synthesis could be viewed as similar to the role of a research user when reading a piece of qualitative research and deciding how useful it is to their own situation.
The aim of this paper is to develop a method for the interpretive synthesis of qualitative research which, given the focus on interpretation, is termed meta-interpretation. As such, the various issues outlined above will be returned to in the next section of the paper, which reviews eight research methods or approaches that include some form of synthesis.
The aim of this study was to gain a higher level of theoretical understanding of the longitudinal process of students' learning to be a physiotherapist across the curriculum. This paper argues for increased attention to metasynthesis of qualitative inquiry research studies to help identify an underpinning professional knowledge base of physiotherapy that is relevant to day to day practice and education, and to emphasize an epistemological dimension of physiotherapy practice as a socially embedded professional activity.
Indeed, a number of approaches to synthesis of qualitative research have been proposed, including: qualitative meta-analysis, meta-ethnography, meta-theory, meta-study, meta-summary, meta-interpretation, meta-aggregation, narrative metasynthesis, thematic synthesis, textual narrative synthesis, qualitative research integration, and qualitative evidence synthesis.
11 Britten N.