The safety of researchers and participants in primary care qualitative research

Williamson, Andrea E. and Burns, Nicola (2014) The safety of researchers and participants in primary care qualitative research. British Journal of General Practice, 64 (621). pp. 198-200. ISSN 0960-1643

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Since the 1990s qualitative research methods have become an intrinsic aspect of primary care research. They have provided insight into the complexity of healthcare professionals? and patients? perspectives on health and health care, utilising a range of methods including interviews, observations, and focus groups.1 These methods require flexibility on the part of the researcher and participant in relation to time, location, and what they share of themselves. It is our view that although primary care research employs rigour when considering which method and analytical approach best fits the research context, there remains a relative neglect of the stance of the researcher and research participant relationships in the design and conduct of primary care studies. Research encounters may provide an encouraging space for individuals to discuss feelings and views. The sharing of such information can likewise be a profound and moving experience for researchers who may encounter emotions inside themselves and others ? feelings which may be challenging. Yet little has been said about emotions in primary care research. How should one deal with these? Similarly, while physical safety for participants is explicitly considered during study design and ethical review, qualitative research takes place outside a lab-based environment and requires researchers to consider their own safety too. This article discusses the emotional safety of participants and researchers and physical safety considerations for researchers by describing approaches we have used. We hope this will encourage debate within the primary care research community and by doing this will enhance research quality and enable clinicians and researchers to make more informed decisions about involving patients in qualitative research.

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Journal Article
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British Journal of General Practice
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17 May 2016 09:02
Last Modified:
19 Sep 2023 01:34