A single qualitative study can show same findings as years of quantitative research: Obstructive Sleep Apnea as an example

Howard Tandeter, Yael Hershkovitz, Lea Kacen Kacen


Many years of quantitative research led to our present knowledge of the symptoms and associated features (S&AF) of the obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) syndrome.

1. To prove that a qualitative research approach may identify symptoms and associated features of OSA in less time/effort than that used in a quantitative approach.
2. To describe the experience of patients with OSA and the effects of the syndrome on their quality of life and that of their spouses and families (issues that quantitative methods fail to recognize).

We used a narrative inquiry methodology (qualitative research). The sample was selected using the “snowball sampling technique";;;. The sample included 10 patients with moderate to severe OSA who had good adherence to CPAP and significant clinical improvement after treatment, and 3 of the patient’s spouses.

The following issues were identified: A long pre-diagnosis phase of OSA (20 years in one of the patients); Characteristic S&AF of the syndrome as experienced by patients and their spouses; The need for increased awareness of both the public and the medical establishment in regards to this disorder; Premature ejaculation (not reported previously) and nightmares (non-conclusive in the literature) were identified and improved with CPAP therapy.

With the use of quantitative research methods it took decades to discover things that we found in one simple qualitative study. We therefore urge scientists to use more often these qualitative methods when looking for S&AF of diseases and syndromes.
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