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Improving nutrition programmes through the promotion of quality coverage assessment tools, capacity building and information sharing.

Stage 1: Qualitative data analysis

The large number of interviews and group discussions that take place during the community assessment will provide a lot of information. This information needs to be organised in such a way that it can be analysed effectively. Effective organisation and analysis of qualitative data is integral to the formation of the prior in Stage 3.

This section outlines a number of tools which can be used by the survey team to organise and analyse qualitative information.

  1. Triangulation
  2. Methods for organising and analysing qualitative data
  3. Additional tools for reflecting on qualitative findings

1. Triangulation:

During a SQUEAC assessment, it is important that qualitative data is validated. To be considered validated, it needs to be cited by a number of different sources. If, when sources are cross-checked against each other, data from one source is confirmed by data from another source, then the data can be considered useful. If data is only confirmed by one source, then more data should be collected, either from the same source or from different sources. This process is known as triangulation.

Data collection using triangulation is a purposeful and intelligent process. Data using different sources and methods should be regularly and frequently compared with each other.

SQUEAC surveys use two different types of triangulation:

  • Triangulation by source: It is better to have data confirmed by more than one source (e.g. clinic staff AND community leaders) rather than by a number of the same type of source. Type of source can also be defined by the socio-economic, demographic and spatial attributes of informants.
  • Triangulation by method: It is better to have data confirmed by more than one effort (e.g. semi-structured interviews and informal group discussions).

2. Methods for organising and analysing qualitative data:

Spreadsheets and databases are not very useful when dealing with data collected using the principles of triangulation (by source and method) and sampling to redundancy. This is because:

  • The data are in a variety of formats ranging from, for example, a simple column of numbers representing admission MUACs to a detailed discussion of local/folk aetiologies and traditional treatment of SAM with a traditional healer. Each type of data is organised, stored, analysed, and presented in different ways. Spreadsheets and databases work best when all data are organised, stored, analysed, and presented in the same way.
  • Data are analysed as they are collected. Data from different sources and methods are compared with each other. Discrepancies in the data are then used to inform decisions about whether to collect further data. If further data collection is required, these discrepancies help determine which data to collect, as well as the sources and methods to be used. Spreadsheets and databases work best when data analysis is performed after all data have been collected.

SQUEAC uses a variety of tools to organise and analyse qualitative data:

BBQ tool: The BBQ (Barriers, Boosters and Questions) tool is designed to help a survey team to triangulate the information gathered during the community assessment. It provides a summary of the current state of an investigation and facilitates the planning of additional data collection. It also enhances team building and improves the quality of the investigation.

A guide on the BBQ tool is available here.

Mind-maps: Mind-mapping is a graphical way of storing and organising data and ideas. A mind-map organises findings using tree structures organised around a central theme and summarises the findings of a SQUEAC assessment. It is drawn and modified as the investigation proceeds.

A guide on how to develop mind-maps during a SQUEAC is available here.

3. Additional tools for reflecting on qualitative findings:

While the BBQ Tool and Mind-mapping are useful for organising and analysing qualitative data while Stage 1 is taking place, a number of additional tools exist for reflecting on findings. These should take place with all of the enumerators present after the qualitative data collection phase has been completed:

Concept maps: Concept mapping is a graphical data-analysis technique that is useful for representing relationships between findings. Concept-maps show findings and the connections (relationships) between findings.

A guide on how to draw concept maps is available here.

See Community Assessment Guidelines in Stage 1: Qualitative data collection


  • Myatt. M, Guevarra. E, Fieschi. L, Norris. A, Guerrero. S, Schofield. L, Jones. D, Emru. E and Sadler. K , 2012. Semi-Quantitative Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SQUEAC) / Simplified Lot Quality Assurance Sampling Evaluation of Access and Coverage (SLEAC) Technical Reference, available to download here.