New tool grade confidence in qualitative data

When WHO needed help to grade findings on child and maternal health, researchers developed a new tool. This tool grades the amount of trust one can have in findings based on qualitative data. 


By Andreas R. Graven

Researcher Benedicte Carlsen at the Uni Research Rokkancentre, one of the co-authors on the paper, describing the new approach CERQual. (Photograph: Andreas R. Graven)


A paper published in PLOS Medicine describes a new approach for assessing how much confidence to place in findings from qualitative evidence syntheses.

The approach is named CERQual (‘Confidence in the Evidence from Reviews of Qualitative research’). 

CERQual is designed to help decision makers use qualitative evidence for decisions and policies about healthcare and social welfare.

Co-author on the paper, researcher Benedicte Carlsen at the Uni Research Rokkan Centre, says findings in qualitative studies now will be more applicable and available for decision makers on different levels. 

- It is very important to heighten the standing of qualitative applied research, so that findings from such studies are, to a greater extent, taken into account and made us of, Carlsen says. 

There are four key components to the CERQual approach, namely assessments of:

1) the methodological limitations of the qualitative studies contributing to a review finding, 2) the relevance to the review question of the studies contributing to a review finding, 3) the coherence of the review finding, 4) the adequacy of data supporting a review finding.

Findings from syntheses of qualitative research can help to provide evidence on the feasibility and acceptability of interventions. 

They can also offer better insights into the factors influencing intervention implementation. Such syntheses are used more and more frequently in decision-making related to health and social policies. 

​However, the paper shows that until recently the methods for assessing how much confidence to place in findings from qualitative evidence syntheses have been poorly developed.


Oct. 26, 2015, 9:10 a.m.

People involved

cp: 2017-12-15 16:15:42