Meta-synthesis of qualitative evidence

The use of qualitative methods in health psychology research has grown enormously in recent decades. This has prompted a need to develop ways of systematically reviewing and synthesizing qualitative research for it to be included in guidelines for evidence based health care.

This interactive workshop provides a thorough grounding in the stages of reviewing, appraising and synthesizing qualitative evidence within an evidence based health care framework. Participants will be able to work through the stages with worked examples in group exercises.


09:00 Registration/tea and coffee
09:30 Workshop starts
12:30-13:00 Lunch
16:30 Workshop ends


This workshop will situate the synthesis of qualitative evidence within the hierarchy of evidence that dominates medicine and health research. A little of the history of the evidence based ethos will be discussed and some of the power issues within science will be raised. This will help attendees understand the context in which they are working but also the potential criticism they may be faced with when presenting qualitative evidence to a scientific community which prioritises the medical and natural science models. Questions will be raised about how qualitative evidence could complement evidence gathered through different methods and through this the benefits of qualitative evidence will be highlighted.

Meta-ethnography will be introduced as a method for synthesizing qualitative evidence and this model will be used as a guide to outline the stages of meta-synthesis. This will include searching for qualitative papers and search terms which can increase the chances of identifying qualitative studies; methods for appraising qualitative research, under the assumption that these should be different from quantitative research; and the activities involved in the descriptive and interpretative analytic processes of the secondary analysis required for a meta-synthesis.
This workshop is for anyone interested in learning about meta-synthesis of qualitative research for the purposes of systematically reviewing a diverse evidence base.

The workshop should appeal to a wide range of psychologists and researchers who are engaged in or are interested in qualitative research and wish to learn about reviewing the qualitative evidence base. The workshop is suitable for Chartered Psychologists, those currently working toward their Stage 2 training as well as other researchers or practitioners who wish to learn about synthesizing qualitative data.

Learning outcomes and objectives

  • Understand the basis of the hierarchy of evidence and where qualitative research fits within that.
  • Be able to construct a search strategy and use the qualitative methodology filter.
  • Have access to and use the Critical Appraisal Skills Programme criteria for appraising the quality of qualitative research.
  • Understand the differences between integrative/aggretative and interpretative synthesis techniques.
  • Understand and have had a practice at doing the secondary analysis involved in a qualitative meta-synthesis.

Facilitator:  Dr Rachel Shaw C Psychol

Dr Rachel Shaw is a Health Psychologist (registered with the HPC) and internationally renowned qualitative researcher. She is a Senior Lecturer at Aston University where she is programme director of the MSc Health Psychology. Her research focuses on illness experiences but also the relationships between practitioners and patients within those illness experiences and their experiences of care or services received. Rachel has expertise in the systematic review and meta-synthesis of qualitative evidence with a number of articles and a recent book chapter on this topic (Harper & Thompson’s edited text, Qualitative Research Methods in Mental Health and Psychotherapy; Wiley, 2011). You may also know Rachel for her workshops on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, her phenomenological research and her work on reflexivity.

Booking information


  • DHP member: £69 +VAT
  • BPS member: £82 + VAT
  • Non-member: £105 + VAT

How to book:


To pay by cheque or request an invoice complete and return the registration form.

Please note that we are only able to accept invoice requests more than 6 weeks before the event date.

Tue, 14/02/2012 (All day)
Contact Information: 


BPS Learning Centre

Tel. +44(0)116 252 9925 

BPS Learning Centre, Division of Health Psychology