Qualitative or Quantitative? Which Helps Regarding Health?

Throughout the first two weeks of class, we have been talking about how communicating health can be shown in two different perspectives. One being qualitative, which is the idea of using cold hard facts and numbers to convey something, and the other being qualitative, which is the idea of using stories or other narratives to convey a message. After reading “Talking About Health”, I feel that the best way to express health issues is a balance of qualitative and quantitative. When we look at Parrott’s experience with the health, we see both perspectives of numbers and stories and how each has it’s benefits and downfall. When using numbers to explain, everyone can easily understand if a doctor says there is a 30 percent chance of getting an illness. If someone tells you that the chances of getting an illness is low because they knew some who almost got it but didn’t, it may sound as if there is almost no chance of getting the illness. This would thus give a sense that this illness is nothing to worry about regardless of the potential 30 percent.

Qualitative reasoning has its problems though. There are many statistics or facts that may not make sense. If for example, the average person has an 40 percent chance of getting cancer, then all we get out of this is 4 out of 10 people get cancer. Does the patient know what the average person is? Does the patient know that they have many other complicated factors playing into why their health is the way it is and that this stat could be higher or lower because of their health? This when the narrative aspect can come into play. In some instances, it is better for a patient who has a severe illness to just release their emotions whether it be good or bad. Not only is it good for the patient psychologically, but it can provide a placebo effect that may help other people who are going through or about to go through the same predicament. I  believe that the best way to take the positives of both types of communication would be to understand the numbers if given one and to fill in the gaps of misunderstanding with qualitative communication. But there are many different possibilities and it is always a case by case basis. Because of that, there is always problems attempting to satisfy all patients in a tailored way.

Usamah Ali

emotional acceptance https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/insight-therapy/201009/emotional-acceptance-why-feeling-bad-is-good




One thought on “Qualitative or Quantitative? Which Helps Regarding Health?

  1. I think you hit on what I am quickly realizing in this class is one of the major problems with the modern (at least in America) health systems. Patients NEED tailored health, they need their doctors to know well enough how to explain something with the right amount of narrative and the right amount of numbers. Yet with the assembly line fashion in which patients are put through emergency rooms and doctor’s offices there isn’t time for that personal tailoring and thus revealed are the issue’s Parrott lights on. That there is a lack of trust in the common people on who to believe and listen to and not knowing how to take the information given to them by doctors. I wish information could be tailored more towards the person and agree this is an ideal situation.

    ~Asha Brogan


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