There are, at least, two definitions of the term:
- One definition is a "set" of information in the form of a narrative such as information collected, for example, through interviews or focus groups. Information in this form cannot be used specifically for statistical analysis but can be used as supplementary information to quantitative data.
- Another definition is categorical data; this definition is used to describe qualitative variables which, as the name suggests, contain values which express a «quality» or «attribute» (e.g. type of social security programme). [wt]
The act of periodically evaluating the objective quality of health facilities on the basis of standards established by the national health policy in terms of equipment, staffing, compliance with treatment protocols, availability of medicines, etc. [ref. 144]
Quantitative variables include measurable values.
Many variables in this category are used to analyse the performance of social security systems, and, in particular, to construct monitoring and performance indicators (made up of one or more variables), or within the framework of a modelling exercise on projections. Quantitative variables can be discrete or continuous.
- A quantitative variable is said to be continuous when the methodology is expressed on a continuous scale of values, as, for example, in social security expenditure or expenditure as a percentage of GDP.
- Discreet variables can only have discrete values; in other words, values which are represented by whole numbers, as, for example, in the number of beneficiaries in a particular scheme. [wt]