Integrating Interviews into Quantitative Domains: Reaching the Parts Controlled Trial Can't Reach
This chapter draws on an empirical study and relates to author position as both an anthropologist in a health services research unit who has witnessed the monopoly of evidence-based methods over other research approaches and as a member of a multidisciplinary team working on an exploratory project designed to develop a screening programme for hypertension and required to defend and promote qualitative and ethnographic approaches to research. The randomized controlled trial was introduced in the 1950s as the most rigorous way of capturing data and determining whether a ‘cause–effect’ relation exists between a course of treatment or intervention and its outcome. Concerns continue in social science research about the widespread and uncritical view of the interview as a method for revealing the personal narratives of the subjects spoken to. Health services research focuses on public health reforms and the importance of introducing cost-efficiency, improved governance mechanisms, transparency and quality control. Moreover, personal interests can supersede any arguments for the greater good.