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CAS WinR Program Hosts Interdisciplinary Qualitative Research Seminar Series

Bevin Croft, PhD, Senior Research Associate at the Human Services Research Institute, led a series of three interactive workshops in January 2022, focused on using qualitative research methods to build evidence for interventions that support recovery and wellness. These workshops, entitled Qualitative Methods to Promote a Good and Modern Behavioral Health System, were hosted by the Rutgers University Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies Wellness in Recovery Program (WinR), and attended by participants from a variety of programs.

Participants were asked to consider the question, “What counts as qualitative data?” As participants answered, the question generated ideas focused less on what does count as qualitative data, and more on what doesn’t count as qualitative data. Qualitative data sources include photos, documents, literature, focus groups, interviews, observations, music, neighborhood environments, and much more. The participants in the workshop talked about what this meant for their research and how to move forward with their investigations, which covered a range of topics related to substance use, mental health, and wellness.

Dr. Peggy Swarbrick, Director of the WinR Addiction Advocacy Research Internship/Fellowship Program, noted, “The three-part qualitative research workshop sponsored through the CAS WinR program provided an opportunity for members of the Rutgers community and collaborators to co-learn the value of qualitative research strategies to effectively design and implement community engaged research and projects. The experiential learning, materials shared and networking offered access to knowledge and resources for all.”

Throughout the series, participants engaged in large and small group discussions about their research. They also discussed how qualitative research can promote a good and modern behavioral health system, which Dr. Croft indicated must be “person-centered, accessible, equitable, recovery-oriented, and trauma-informed. Achieving these aspirations requires stakeholders to have data – both quantitative and qualitative – to determine what interventions work for which people under what circumstances.”

Dr. Croft’s leadership ensured the series was accessible. One participant, WinR Intern Tanya Lalwani, shared, “The recent WinR seminar series on qualitative data by Dr. Bevin Croft was a wonderful and much-needed resource. As a novice to the topic, I found Dr. Croft’s engaging and informative overview as well as her practical guidance on my own project to be immensely helpful. The seminar also provided a unique opportunity for collaboration with and mutual learning from other participants.” Another participant, Dr. Alexandra Bauer noted, “The seminar was an incredible opportunity to learn about qualitative research while engaging directly with Dr. Croft and applying her guidance to current research in progress. The series also illustrated how many insightful qualitative projects are being conducted by Rutgers University students, faculty, and affiliates.”

Disclaimer: The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Center of Alcohol & Substance Use Studies.