Qualitative Research in Nursing and Health Professions Regulation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Qualitative research is critical for studies about regulatory issues in nursing and across all health professions. When in-depth stakeholder perspectives are needed, qualitative approaches are often the best methodological choice to ensure their viewpoints and experiences are captured when evaluating the consequences of policy implementation or when informing regulation design. Unlike traditional qualitative health care studies that involve patients or providers in single settings, regulatory studies often have complex challenges related to the available sample sizes, sampling strategies, and data collection approaches. Reporting qualitative findings in ways that are informative, useful, and dialogue provoking about regulatory issues must go beyond inserting long quotes with a single sentence explanation. Artfully capturing the participants’ stories within the regulatory matter under study is vital for understanding potential and actual consequences of regulations. This article provides an overview of common methodological challenges researchers encounter when conducting qualitative research on professional regulation issues and offers solutions to enhance the quality, rigor, and trustworthiness of the findings. The recommendations may prove useful to researchers examining regulatory issues in nursing and other health professions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-26
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Nursing Regulation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2018


  • Credentialing
  • government regulation
  • licensure
  • policy
  • professional autonomy
  • qualitative research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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