n South African Medical Journal - Parents' perceptions of HIV counselling and testing in schools : study methodology deeply flawed : correspondence

Volume 104, Issue 5
  • ISSN : 0256-9574
  • E-ISSN: 2078-5135



I am responding to the article by Gwandure that appeared in the January . The article claims to explore parents' views on the HIV counselling and testing campaign to be conducted in high schools, within an interpretative qualitative paradigm. This is an interesting and important topic. However, the methodology of the study is deeply flawed and unfortunately gives qualitative research a bad name. While the authors' sampling for a qualitative study was acceptable, it is unclear what their 'snowballing' means. Since there are so many parents of children in high school (and it is not a sensitive issue to be such a parent), it is unclear why snowballing was necessary; in fact, it creates an unnecessary clustering of possibly like-minded people. This, however, is not my main objection (nor is their description of 'black' people as one ethnic group). My main problem with the methodology is that all the data that are presented are quantitative. If this was a quantitative study, then of course the sample of 20 and the sampling process would be woefully inadequate. Presenting the numbers in this context has no meaning and is irrelevant. Had this study been a quantitative one with an adequate sample, it might have had some validity. However, it fails on both qualitative and quantative fronts.

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