Further Reading

Further readingFlemming, K and Noyes, J. Qualitative Evidence Synthesis: Where Are We at? International Journal of Qualitative Methods, Volume 20: 1–13, 2021


Qualitative evidence syntheses (QES) have increased in prominence and profile over the last decade as a discrete set of methodologies to undertake systematic reviews of primary qualitative research in health and social care and in education. The findings from a qualitative evidence synthesis can enable a richer interpretation of a particular phenomenon, set of circumstances, or experiences than single primary qualitative research studies can achieve. Qualitative evidence synthesis methods were developed in response to an increasing demand from health and social professionals, policy makers, guideline developers and educationalists for review evidence that goes beyond “what works” afforded by systematic reviews of effectiveness. The increasing interest in the synthesis of qualitative research has led to methodological developments documented across a plethora of texts and journal articles. This “State of the Method” paper aims to bring together these methodological developments in one place, contextualizing advances in methods with exemplars to support readers in making choices in approach to a synthesis and aid understanding. The paper clarifies what a “qualitative evidence synthesis” is and explores its role, purpose and development. It details the kind of questions a QES can explore, the processes associated with a QES, including the methods for synthesis. The rational and methods for integrating a QES with systematic reviews of effectiveness are also detailed. Finally approaches reporting and recognition of what a “good” or rigorous QES look like are provided.