Appropriate Research Methods

3. Different Methods

Different Methods have Different Philosophical Origins

The continuing debate over the most appropriate research methods has traceable
origins in:

a) Divergent social philosophies; and

b) Different conceptions of disease and health.

Attention, however, focuses not on these two underlying origins, but rather on the more immediate applicability of current research methods to measuring and explaining some health problem. Inviting colleagues to move discussion to a more conceptual level, Nijhuis and Van der Maesen (1994) have suggested:

"....most theoretical debates about the pros and cons of public health approaches are confined to the methodological scientific level. Philosophical foundations such as underlying ontological notions are rarely part of public health discussions, but these are always implicit and lie behind the arguments and reasoning of different viewpoints or traditions" (Nijhuis and Van der Maesen, 1994:1).

They make crucial distinctions that facilitate understanding of the logical everyday consequences of these different social philosophies and conceptions of health.