Historically, there has been evidence of poor care and low staffing in nursing and other professions. However, evidence is often discredited or regarded as anecdotal, as was Barbara Robb’s study (1967 ) , despite the fact that this was based on hundreds of reports from staff, patients and relatives. “Anecdotal” may commonly be regarded as “not evidenced”, or based on individual responses. Yet, there are established methods of research that give credence to such factors.
The issue reflects debates concerning naturalistic and quantitative research. Naturalistic research involves the gathering of responses of people to their situations . Quantitative research is more concerned with data collection and statistical analysis . In both these paradigms of research data may be falsified to suit the researchers world view, or that of the funding body.
Surely, one of the most effective ways of exploring poor care is to question patients, relatives and staff. Is the term “anecdotal” being used as an excuse to disregard evidence of witnesses or people who have experienced certain situations? Such ‘voices’ may be ignored by managers and politicians who would prefer to rely on ‘official’ statistics.
Should information given on ‘alternative’ websites be ignored because they do not rely on ‘official’ sources of information? Likewise, should insights expressed in novels like Brave New World and Animal Farm be ignored because they are not ‘researched’? May they not give more of an insight into the human condition on one page than would be the case in a thousand pages of ‘research’?
Carol Dimon, Lenin Nightingale c 2014