Aim: The purpose of this review was to comprehensively explore various aspects of qualitative research, its methods, applications, challenges, and recommendations pertaining to dentistry. Background: Qualitative research is a form of social inquiry concerned primarily with how people see and understand their social world. It has hypothesized the field of social sciences and proved to be helpful in health sciences as well. It has a descent from anthropology and philosophy to sociology. Evidence shows that this method was first used by anthropologists and sociologists back in the early decades of 20th century, as a method of inquiry. The qualitative research cycle consists of three interlinked methods: the design cycle, ethnographic cycle, and analytical cycle. In-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observation, and documentary analysis are methods to collect data. Most commonly practiced methods are the first two approaches. An approach of investigation involving both quantitative and qualitative data analysis is called as mixed methods research. Review results: Literature search was done with the help of Endnote software, followed by systematically arranging the retrieved articles in a synchronized manner. Few studies were found in the field of public health dentistry, which employed a qualitative approach to probe into a few sensitive issues. Conclusion: Although the future scope of qualitative research in this field is immense, it continues to be underutilized. Qualitative research complements quantitative research work as it explores complex phenomena and areas in which quantitative research alone may not be amenable to.
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