Metasynthesis - Research Course in Advanced Qualitative Methods

Metasynthesis is research on qualitative research and several methods have been developed to synthesize qualitative studies in various fields and disciplines. Meta-ethnography is one of the most used interpretative metasynthesis methods in development. Metasynthesis research has the potential to benefit human and societal development, and may contribute to the use of qualitative research findings in decision-making. Metasynthesis research studies may advance the critical philosophical, theoretical and methodological knowledge and discussion that is relevant to the development of qualitative research.

Course Level:

PhD (within health sciences).


PhD candidates from other universities and colleges in Norway and EEA can apply for the course. However, PhD candidates of the National Graduate-level Researcher School of Municipal Healthcare Services will be given first priority. Documentation of admission to a PhD program is required.


Qualitative methods

Offered as an independent course:


Learning outcomes:

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the arguments for a metasynthesis research design
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the characteristics of different types of metasynthesis approaches and methods with a focus on interpretative meta-ethnography
  • Demonstrate understanding of validity in metasynthesis research designs
  • Be able to create aims and research questions in metasynthesis research designs
  • Demonstrate skills to applicate metasynthesis designs in research with a focus on interpretative meta-ethnography
  • Be able to critically assess and evaluate qualitative studies for inclusion in metasynthesis studies
  • Reflect on the use of metasynthesis in evidence-based practice
  • Integrate a critical attitude to validity in metasynthesis research designs
  • Reflect on ethical, gender and ethnic issues in metasynthesis studies

Course Contents:

  • Metasynthesis-what, why, and how
  • Metaphors in metasynthesis
  • Meta-ethnography
  • Comparisons of metasynthesis to integrative reviews, systematic reviews, meta-aggregation, meta-analysis and secondary analysis
  • Primary research appraisal

Mode of delivery:

Face-to-face in one session 

Learning activities and teaching methods:

Lectures, exercises and discussions


Each participant will write an assignment (approx. 3500 words) as a plan for a metasynthesis study related to the participants’ own research project using the literature and discussions from the course (OP).  The paper should include suggestions and arguments for a) the aim and research question, b) the criteria for inclusion and exclusion, c) a plan for a literature search, d) a preliminary appraisal and analysis of the findings of three included articles, and d) a possible synthesis and finally, e) reflections on the process. The assignment will be assessed as Pass/Fail.

Submitting exam papers

Send it to coordinator in pdf format before;

Due date: June 10 2019

Required reading:

  • Bondas, T. & Hall, E. (2007a). Challenges in the approaches to metasynthesis research. Qualitative Health Research, 17,113-121.
  • Bondas, T., Hall, E. & Wikberg, A. (2013, 1st ed. /2017, 2nd ed.) Metasynthesis in health care research. In P. Liamputtong (ed.), Research methods for health: Foundations for evidence-based practice, Victoria: Oxford University Press.
  • France, E.F., Cunningham, M., Ring, N. et al. (2019). Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: The eMERGe reporting guidance. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 2019;00:1-14.https:/
  • France, E.F, Wells, M., Lang, H. & Williams, B. (2016). Why, when and how to update a meta-ethnography qualitative synthesis. Systematic Reviews, 5, Art. No.: 44.
  • Hannes, K., Lockwood, C., & Pearson, A. (2010). A comparative analysis of three online appraisal instruments’ ability to assess validity in qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 20 (12), 1736–1743
  • Noblit, G.W. & Hare, R.D. (1988). Meta-ethnography: synthesizing qualitative studies. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Sandelowski, M. & Barroso, J. (2007). Handbook for synthesizing qualitative research. New York: Springer.

Recommended reading:

  • Beck, C.T. (ed.) (2013). Routledge International Handbook of Qualitative Nursing Research, Routledge: London
  • Bergdahl, E. (2019). Is meta-synthesis turning rich descriptions into thin reductions? A criticism of meta-aggregation as a form of qualitative synthesis. Nursing Inquiry 2019; 26e12273.
  • Britten, N., Campbell, R., Pope, C., Donovan, J., Morgan, M. & Pill, R.(2002) Using meta-ethnography to synthesise qualitative research: a worked example. Journal of Health Services Research and Policy,7(4), 209-216
  • Bondas, T. & Hall, E. (2007b). A decade of metasynthesis research: A meta-method study. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Wellbeing, 2(2), 101-113.
  • Cahill, M., Robinson, K., Pettigrew, J., Galvin, R. & Stanley, M. (2018) Qualitative synthesis: A guide to conducting a meta-ethnography. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 81(3), 129-137.
  • Eilertsen, G., Ormstad, H., Kirkevold, M. (2013) Experiences of poststroke fatigue: qualitative meta-synthesis. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 69(3), 514-25. doi: 10.1111/jan.12002.Terese Bondas
  • Kitzmüller, G., Clancy, A., Vaismoradi, M., Wegener, C. & Bondas, T. (2018). “Trapped in an Empty Waiting Room”-The existential human core of loneliness in old age: A meta-synthesis. Qualitative Health Research, 28(2), 213-230, DOI: 10.1177/1049732317735079
  • Nybakken, S., Strandås, M. & Bondas, T. (2018) Caregivers’ perceptions of aggressive behaviour in nursing home residents living with dementia: A meta‐ethnography, Journal of Advanced Nursing,
  • Paterson, B.L., Thorne, S.E., Canam, C. & Jillings, C. (2001). Meta-study of qualitative health research. A practical guide to meta-analysis and meta-synthesis. Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage.
  • Solbakken, R., Bergdahl, E., Rudolfsson, G. & Bondas, T. (2018). International Nursing: Caring in Nursing Leadership-A meta-ethnography from the nurse leader's perspective. Nursing Administration Quarterly, 42(4):E1–E19, DOI: 10.1097/NAQ.0000000000000314.
  • Strandås, M. & Bondas, T. (2018). The nurse-patient relationship as a story of health enhancement in community care: a meta-ethnography, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 74, 2. DOI: 10.1111/jan.13389
  • Tong, A., Sainsbury, P. & Craig, J. (2007). Consolidated criteria for reporting qualitative research (COREQ): a 32-item checklist for interviews and focus groups. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 19, 6, 1, 349-357,
  • Uny, I., France, E.F. & Noblit, G.W. (2017) Steady and delayed: Explaining the different development of meta-ethnography in health care and education. Ethnography and Education,

And literature chosen by the student for the home assignment.

Course Schedule

Time April 8, 2019
12.00.-12.30 Introduction to the course and presentation of the participants. Prof. Terese Bondas
12.30-14.00 What is metasynthesis? Why choose a metasynthesis approach? Prof. Terese Bondas
14.00-14.30  Break
14.30-16.00 Comparisons of metasynthesis to integrated reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis and secondary analysis. Prof. Marit Kirkevold
16.00-17.00 Challenges of doing metasynthesis in a research team. Assoc. Prof. Elisabeth Bergdahl


Time April 9, 2019
9.00.- 12.00

Meta-ethnography, part I. Dr. Emma France

10.15.-10.30 Break
12.00-13.00 Lunch

Meta-ethnography, part II. Dr. Emma France

14.30- 15.00 Coffee, tea
15.00- 17.00

Group work: Analysis of a metasynthesis study in community care.

Prof. Terese Bondas & Assoc. Prof. Gabriele Kitzmüller


Time April 10, 2019 
8.30.-9.15 What is synthesis in metasynthesis? Assoc. Prof. Elisabeth Bergdahl
9.15-9.30  Break
9.30.-10.15 Metaphors in metasynthesis, Assoc. Prof. Gabriele Kitzmüller
10.15.-11.30 Presentations of the analysis of the metasynthesis study. Prof. Terese Bondas and Associate Professor Gabriele Kitzmüller
11.30-12.30   Lunch

Presentations of the analysis of the metasynthesis study.

Prof. Terese Bondas & Associate Professor Gabriele Kitzmüller


Planning the individual course assignments with the students and evaluation.

Prof. Terese Bondas & Assoc. Prof. Gabriele Kitzmüller


Travel arrangement:

Participants are responsible for booking their own travel and lodging. PhD students of the National Graduate-level Researcher School of Municipal Healthcare Services are eligible to apply for reimbursement of travel expenses for up to 5000 NOK. The travel policy of the Graduate School (Forskerskolen) applies. 


Emneord: forskerskole, Ph.d.
Publisert 31. jan. 2019 10:59 - Sist endret 10. mai 2021 14:50