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Volume 6, Pages 2285-2295
Research Article

Quali-Quantitative Analysis (QQA): Why It Could Open New Frontiers for Holistic Health Practice

University Department of Rural Health, University of Tasmania, Australia

Received 13 November 2006; Revised 25 November 2006; Accepted 26 November 2006

Academic Editor: Joav Merrick

Copyright © 2006 Erica Bell.


Holistic health practice is often described as being about understanding the larger contexts of patients, their health services, and their communities. Yet do traditional quantitative and qualitative health research methods produce the best possible evidence for the holistic practices of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals? This paper argues ““no”, and examines the potential of a cutting-edge, social science research method — Quali-Quantitative Research (QQA) — for providing better evidence for holistic practice, particularly in small-N populations, such as rural and remote communities. It does so with reference to the international literature on holistic medicine, as well as three holistic health projects conducted in Tasmania: about prevention of falls in older people, adolescent substance abuse, and interventions for children aged 0–5 exposed to domestic violence. The findings suggest that much health research fails to capture rigorously the contextual complexity of holistic health challenges: the multiple different needs of individual patients, and the interprofessional approaches needed to deliver multidisciplinary and multiservice health interventions tailored to meet those needs in particular community contexts. QQA offers a “configurational”, case-based, diversity-oriented approach to analysing data that combines qualitative and quantitative techniques to overcome the limitations of both research traditions. The author concludes that QQA could open new frontiers for holistic health by helping doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals answer a fundamental question presented by complex health challenges: “Given this set of whole-of-patient needs, what elements of which interventions in what services would work best in this particular community?””