Effect sizes in qualitative research synthesis: How effect size calculations improve the quality of qualitative research synthesis

Mette Spliid Ludvigsen, Elisabeth O C Hall, Thomas Westergren, Hanne Aagaard, Liv Fegran

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Background:Qualitative systematic reviews (QSR) - often referred to as metasynthesis, synthesize findings of qualitative primary studies using qualitative methods. Unlike narrative overviews of literature, QSR are empirical
projects that include the collection, critical appraisal, analysis and synthesis of knowledge. In a review about parents’ experiences of the transfer from paediatric to adult care for their adolescent or young adult children with chronic
conditions, we integrated effect size calculations in the QRS of 23 primary studies.
Interpretive researchers have argued that implementing effect sizes calculation in the analyses enhance the process of verstehen/hermeneutics in that effect sizes calculations, as one component in QSR, assess the relative magnitude of the abstracted findings and ascertain which findings reports contributed to the final set of abstracted findings.
Objective: To introduce to effect size calculations in qualitative research synthesis, and to establish how effect seize calculations may affect the analysis and final metasynthesis.
Methods: In this presentation, we propose a rationale for effect seize calculations and their use in QSR. We demonstrate our use of effect sizes in own review, we show ways of integrating effect sizes in varied QSRs, and
how effect seize calculations affected the analysis and final metasynthesis.
Results:Calculation of effect sizes enables transformation of qualitative data in extracting more meaning from those data and verifying the presence of a pattern or theme, and effect sizes can avoid the possibility of over or underweighting findings.
Limitation is that equal weight may be given to each study regardless of how many participants a study has. However, quality is not just associated with numbers of participants but with what the study adds to the knowledge of
the topic.
Conclusion: This discussion contributes to careful considerations among qualitative research reviewers when contemplating about integrating effect size calculations in future qualitative research synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventNordic Conference in Nursing Research - Copenhagen, Denmark
Duration: 4 Oct 20216 Oct 2021


ConferenceNordic Conference in Nursing Research


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