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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: July 2020

9 - Qualitative Approaches to the Study of Substance and Behavioral Addictions

from Part II - Clinical and Research Methods in the Addictions


This chapter provides an overview of qualitative research methods in substance and behavioral addictions research and practice. It discusses the nature and importance of qualitative methodologies in iterating how individual perspectives, social meanings, and lived experiences impact the nature of substance and behavioral addictions. Methods addressed include ethnography, participant and nonparticipant observation, qualitative interviews, focus groups, and participatory action research (PAR), and empirical evidence in the context of addictions is provided. Additionally, a brief summary of each method and generally understood advantages and disadvantages of each are given. Data analysis techniques covered include grounded theory, narrative and discourse analysis, and thematic analysis. Lastly, major contributions to the field of addictions regarding research on hard-to-reach and marginalized populations, evaluating treatment and intervention services, measuring risk behaviors, investigating barriers to treatment programs, conceptualizing motivational and emotional components of addiction, and aiding in the formation of diagnostic criterion are reviewed.

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