Research Interests & Qualitative Research Methods

Research is only useful if the new knowledge it generates makes a difference in people’s lives.” – Prof. Mildred Solomon, Ed.D., Harvard Medical School

Knowing is not enough we must apply. Willing is not enough, We must do.”  – Goethe

Professor Donna Friedman Letter of reference – research focus – August 15 2016

In general, my areas of research interests include quality of care and quality of life of people living with dementia in long-term care homes (such as nursing homes and assisted living residences) and in the community. While my scope of interest is wide, I am particularly interested in conducting, collaborating on, and offering consultation on studies examining (enhance understanding and promote prevention of) various forms of distressing and potentially harmful behavioral expressions in this population. An example is psychosocial and person-directed approaches and interventions for prevention of behavioral expressions commonly labeled as “aggressive” (either those that occur between residents [resident-to-resident]  and those that occur between residents and direct care staff or family care partners e.g. rejection of care during personal care such as bathing). I am also interested in studying “culture change” initiatives and journeys as well as  approaches and interventions that bring about and maintain positive emotional states in people living with dementia throughout the day, evening, and night (e.g. engagement in various forms of personally meaningful activities; Alzheimer’s-specific communication methods such as Validation Method; the impact of the physical environment on these individuals’ lived experience, emotional states, and behavioral expressions; and Habilitation Therapy/Model of Care).

My primary experience and expertise are in Qualitative Research Methods (using data collection strategies such as semi-structured interviews, direct observations, focus groups and analysis of these and various other forms of text-based data).

The difference between qualitative research methods and quantitative research methods (both can have tremendous value) has been described over half a century ago (this is just a very basic simplification of the difference and is not meant to suggest that quantitative research is not important, it is very important and regularly informs important work done in the field of aging and care for elders with dementia):

“Going forth to see what the jungle consists of rather than making one’s way through a jungle to find a particular village.”

Source: Soskin, W.F. & John, V. (1963). The study of spontaneous talk. In R.G. Barker (Ed.), The Stream of Behavior: Explorations of its Structure and Content (p. 228). New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts.

To learn more about some of the key differences between qualitative and quantitative research methods, see the article:

Cobb, A.K. & Forbes, S. (2002). Qualitative research: What does it have to offer to the Gerontologist? Journals of Gerontology (Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences), 57(4), M197-M202. Abstract:

My qualitative research approach is based primarily on:

Miles, M.B., Huberman, A.M., Saldana, J. (2014). Qualitative data analysis: A methods sourcebook (3rd edition). Los Angeles: Sage.

I have extensive experience using the qualitative data analysis software NVivo. For more information about this software, see QSR International’s website:

Thanks for your consideration in using my services in qualitative research methods. For questions and to discuss opportunities for research collaboration, please email me at: