Grounded theory (GT) is a common approach to inductive analysis of qualitative health communication data. GT analysis generates a typology of themes or categories based on "emic" (research participant) perspectives that together constitute a new theory or extension of existing theory. GT is used to analyze data in written form, including researcher-generated data (e.g., interview transcripts, ethnographic field notes), participant-generated data (e.g., journal entries, narratives), or mediated representations (e.g., news coverage, Web site postings). GT contrasts with deductive research designs in which researchers begin with a theory and test ways in which data may (or may not) support its tenants. There is significant variability in the understanding and application of GT principles and practices within (and beyond) health communication.
Encyclopedia of health communication
Teresa L. Thompson
Ellingson, L. L., & Borofka, K. G. E. (2014). Grounded theory. T. L. Thompson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of health communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.