Difference between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods

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Updated: Sep 05, 2023
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Category: Psychology
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The two articles used in this paper are Gender and Age Are Associated with Healthy Food Purchases via grocery voucher redemption, written by Frances Hardin-Fanning and Y Gokum, and Attitudes, Social Norms, and perceived behavioral control factors influencing participation in a Cooking Skills Program in rural Central Appalachia, written by Frances Hardin-Fanning, Ph.D., RN and Janelle M. Ricks, DrPH. The purpose of this paper is to analyze each article and identify which article is qualitative and which is quantitative, examine their methods of data collection, and determine if healthcare providers should change their practice.


  • Study Characteristics

    The qualitative study was conducted by Fanning to determine how attitudes, social norms, and behavioral changes influenced participation in cooking classes. These classes were held to teach participants about nutrition and healthy cooking. Fanning’s quantitative study was carried out to determine the association of Gender, age, and income level with purchasing healthy food that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) with the use of grocery store vouchers.

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    Sample and Data Collection

    For this study, a cooking skills program was hosted in Central Appalachia for 12 months that focused on teaching nutritional education and how to cook meals that incorporated foods associated with the reduction of cardiovascular disease. Before the class began, participants were served a plant-based meal and then asked what barriers existed that kept them from eating healthy meals consistently. Of the barriers reported, the major ones included costs, limited knowledge of the health benefits of specific foods, lengthy preparation times, and how family members would respond to the introduction of new foods. County USDA Cooperative Extension Family and Consumer Science (FCS) agents served as the instructors of the cooking classes. Agents taught time-saving cooking techniques as well as showed participants six simple recipes from the cookbooks given to the participants. The participants were also given six food preparation tools to cut down preparation time. Many of the taught recipes were modifications of dishes frequently consumed in order to make them more heart-healthy, such as baking fish nuggets versus buying fried fish nuggets.

    A total of 311 people took part in the study. Breathitt County, Kentucky, was chosen as the location for the study due to its high rates of poverty and chronic disease and, its many families experiencing the inability to provide food for themselves and food insecurity. The diet of rural Appalachia consisted mostly of calorie-dense meats and starches that were often fried. The campaign in this study focuses on the effectiveness of promoting the purchase of food items that are associated with reduced cardiovascular disease. A print media campaign was used, with health articles and simple healthy recipes published in the two local newspapers for four weeks. A five-dollar grocery voucher was then introduced in the last week of the campaign. The grocery voucher was redeemable for one day at either of the county’s grocery stores. One store is a national chain, and the other is a national discount chain. Blue logos were used by the stores to mark foods that are known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and a registered nurse was present at the produce section. Participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire and were given a $5 gift card after completing the questionnaire. Each respondent was asked to return their receipts at the end of their shopping trip to receive free ‘healthy eating’ items. All respondents returned their receipts.

    Data Analysis and Results

    Family members’ reactions to the food were one of the major concerns with cooking healthier foods. If family members did not like the food, food would be wasted, and the cost of groceries would be affected. During the skills program held in this study, each participant was given the ingredients to cook with for free, and they were able to take the prepared meals home in order to accommodate the concern of food waste. Mid-way through the 12-month classes, a focus group was formed with 10 participants. These participants shared positive responses to the classes, including the opportunity to make new friendships and get new resources to prepare healthy meals. The majority of the participants stated that they were able to introduce healthier food into their meals successfully, and they viewed the classes as an opportunity to interact socially and obtain new resources to lead healthier lives.

    Of the 311 participants, the age range of the participants was from 16 to 89 years old, with the average age being almost 46. The percentage of males to females was 30 percent to 70 percent, and 43 percent of the participants had an annual income of less than $20,000. The results of the study found that those who bought one or more labeled items were older than those who bought none. Gender also had an effect on labeled food purchases, as sixty-three percent of women bought labeled food. Finally, there was a relationship found between spending less than ten dollars and buying a labeled food item. Forty-three percent of the participants who spent less than $10 did not purchase a labeled food item, and 75 percent of the participants who spent more than $10 purchased a labeled food item.


    A major finding in the study was how big of a role family played when it comes to the willingness to try healthy recipes. Family members’ health was stated as a motivation for learning healthy recipes. Some participant’s families were excited and open to changes in meals, while others were reluctant. In the future, it is important to identify the underlying cause of why individuals want to change their diets. With this knowledge, it will be possible to help individuals change to healthier diets, even with the barriers that exist in their lives.

    The study found that 58 percent of participants purchased one or more of the labeled foods. When Determining updated strategies, it is important to keep in mind that age is a major factor. Young adults are more tech-savvy than older adults and are more likely to respond to social media campaigns promoting healthy eating than a print media campaign utilized in this study. Also, young adults are more likely to change bad eating habits when they are educated about how certain foods are known to have risks associated with cardiovascular disease than older adults. Finally, more research is needed to determine if financial incentives, such as grocery vouchers, actually help promote the purchase of heart-healthy foods over foods that are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease.


    Qualitative and quantitative research have a fundamental difference; however, neither method of research is necessarily better than the other. Qualitative research uses inductive explanations, while quantitative research makes use of deductive explanations. Qualitative research is concerned with human behavior, and data is collected through interviews and observations of the participants. When qualitative data is recorded, it is recorded in the participant’s language. Quantitative research gathers data in numerical form, which can then be put into categories that can be used in graphs and tables. This type of research is concerned with facts that are reported in statistics.


    The qualitative article Attitudes, Social Norms, and perceived behavioral control factors influencing participation in a Cooking Skills Program in rural Central Appalachia contained no statistics or comparisons. One of the easiest ways to identify that this is a qualitative article is by the use of direct quotes, such as “I’m starting to eat a little bit more broccoli. I used to pick it out of every dish.” The use of direct quotes allows the reader to fully understand the subject that is being investigated.


    It is clear that the study, Gender, and age associated with healthy food purchases via grocery voucher redemption are quantitative from the use of numerical data, as well as the use of comparisons. The comparison that 63 percent of females bought at least one labeled food versus 47 percent of males is one example from this article (Hardin-Fanning, 2014). A strength of quantitative research is the use of the variables being tested to help predict future outcomes (Carr, 1994).


    This paper examines two studies, one being a qualitative study and the other a quantitative study. The data collected, along with the collection method each study takes advantage of, is compared and analyzed. While qualitative and quantitative data are very different, both types of data can be used together. Between each of the differences of qualitative and quantitative research, each method is used to complement the other. Also, both types of research allow for new knowledge to be developed. Healthcare providers should use both qualitative and quantitative research together to better understand the subject of the investigation and reach more accurate conclusions.  

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    1. Hardin-Fanning, F., & Y Gokum. “Gender and age are associated with healthy food purchases via grocery voucher redemption.” 

    2. Hardin-Fanning, F., & Ricks, J. M.  “Attitudes, social norms, and perceived behavioral control factors influencing participation in a cooking skills program in rural Central Appalachia.” 

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    Difference Between Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods. (2023, Sep 05). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/difference-between-qualitative-and-quantitative-research-methods/