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Type: Journal article
Title: Establishing confidence in the output of qualitative research synthesis: the ConQual approach
Author: Munn, Z.
Porritt, K.
Lockwood, C.
Aromataris, E.
Pearson, A.
Citation: BMC Medical Research Methodology, 2014; 14(1):108-1-108-7
Publisher: BioMed Central
Issue Date: 2014
ISSN: 1471-2288
Statement of
Zachary Munn, Kylie Porritt, Craig Lockwood, Edoardo Aromataris and Alan Pearson
Abstract: BACKGROUND: The importance of findings derived from syntheses of qualitative research has been increasingly acknowledged. Findings that arise from qualitative syntheses inform questions of practice and policy in their own right and are commonly used to complement findings from quantitative research syntheses. The GRADE approach has been widely adopted by international organisations to rate the quality and confidence of the findings of quantitative systematic reviews. To date, there has been no widely accepted corresponding approach to assist health care professionals and policy makers in establishing confidence in the synthesised findings of qualitative systematic reviews. METHODS: A methodological group was formed develop a process to assess the confidence in synthesised qualitative research findings and develop a Summary of Findings tables for meta-aggregative qualitative systematic reviews. RESULTS: Dependability and credibility are two elements considered by the methodological group to influence the confidence of qualitative synthesised findings. A set of critical appraisal questions are proposed to establish dependability, whilst credibility can be ranked according to the goodness of fit between the author's interpretation and the original data. By following the processes outlined in this article, an overall ranking can be assigned to rate the confidence of synthesised qualitative findings, a system we have labelled ConQual. CONCLUSIONS: The development and use of the ConQual approach will assist users of qualitative systematic reviews to establish confidence in the evidence produced in these types of reviews and can serve as a practical tool to assist in decision making.
Keywords: Qualitative systematic reviews; Confidence; Credibility; Summary of findings; Meta-aggregation
Rights: © 2014 Munn et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
RMID: 0030014887
DOI: 10.1186/1471-2288-14-108
Appears in Collections:Public Health publications

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