SPEECH & LANGUAGE THERAPY IN PRACTICE
SamanthaPaula(and variations thereof) used in quantitativedesigns. Kuper
. (2008) have a helpful listof qualitative sampling methods for interviewsor focus groups in healthcare settings. Theseinclude self-evident ones like:
deviant case sampling
, to lessfamiliar ones like:
• maximum-variation sampling
– samplingfrom a range of perspectives that is wideenough to include all the factors that mightinuence the nature and quality of people’sexperiences, or
• snowball sampling
– each recruit to thestudy generates more participants throughpersonal contact, often used for researchwith ‘hard to reach’ or stigmatised groups.Have the authors explained why theparticipants they selected were the mostappropriate to provide access to the type of knowledge sought by the study? Were thereany discussions around recruitment, such aswhy some people chose not to take part?Question 4:Were the data generated in an appropriate way?Was the setting justied – the
place tolook rather than the
(Not just lookingunder lampposts!) People’s experiencesof your service may be fresh in their mindon the way out of the door from their rstappointment but perhaps they might providemore meaningful information once they haveexperienced some intervention.In my local setting, we recently conducteda series of focus groups with people withaphasia. The participants were all folk whosestroke had occurred relatively recently butwho were now discharged from speech andlanguage therapy. We could be reasonablycondent that:a. the group’s views provided a uniqueperspective on their whole care pathway,which reected our (and other healthcarepractitioners’) current practice,b. the impact of communication dicultieshad been minimised, andc. there was no undue inuence from adesire to maintain current therapeuticrelationships. The ndings are being used as an evidencebase for our current service strategy - forexample, that we invest eort and resourcesin raising awareness of aphasia and healthpromotion for people living with aphasia inour local community.
Qualitativedesignmethodsinvolveexploration andinterpretationvia datageneration
They arestrongeron validity(closeness to thetruth).They are thepreferredmethodsfor poorlyunderstoodor relativelyunexploredphenomena.DocumentsStudy of documents produced by real peoplein real situations (for example, casenotes).PassiveobservationSystematic recording of behaviour and talk innaturally occurring settings.Participant-observationThe researcher takes part in the setting aswell as observing.Semi-structuredinterviewFace-to-face (or telephone) conversationwith the purpose of exploring issues or topicsin detail. Uses a pre-set list of questions ortopics but is not restricted to these.NarrativeinterviewInterview undertaken in a less structuredfashion, with the purpose of getting a longstory from the interviewee (typically a lifestory or the story of how a condition hasunfolded over time). The interviewer usesonly general prompts to “tell me more”.Focus GroupsMethod of group interview which explicitlyincludes and uses the group interactions togenerate data.
Table 1 Qualitative methods
Is it clear how data were generated in thestudy, and have the researchers justied themethods chosen? Table 1 is extracted from therst article in this series to remind you of themost common sorts of qualitative methods.Authors should make their methods veryexplicit so that you can judge whether biasmight have crept in. For example, for aninterview method, is there an indication of how interviews were conducted? If dierentinterviewers were involved, how did theyminimise dierences in personal interviewingstyle? Did they use a topic guide or a standardset of questions and / or prompts?A lot of qualitative research is exploratoryand so researchers are expected to reecton their data as it is being generated. Thismeans that methods may be modied duringthe study. Check whether this happened inthis study, and, if so, do the authors provideenough explanation of how and why?Is the form of data clear? A good test iswhether you can you visualise what thedata looks like (tape recordings, videomaterial, notes)? Illustrations of eld diaries,transcription frameworks and so on are helpful.Now we come to a bit of qualitativetechnospeak. Did they discuss
? This is the point at which yourmethod is generating no new information.Question 5:Was the study conducted within an appropriateethical framework?Participants in a research study need tounderstand what they are letting themselvesin for, why the study is important and howtheir contribution will be used once the studyis completed and disseminated. This is true of all research. However, in qualitative studies theethical issues can be trickier, since the personalexperiences of the participants will notnecessarily be reduced to a set of anonymousnumbers. There are potential consequenceswhen people’s personal experiences areexposed both to themselves and to others.Have the authors discussed the ethical issuesraised by the study, such as informed consent(and how they achieved this where children orparticipants with communication dicultiesare concerned), condentiality and how theyhave handled the eects of the study on theparticipants during and after the study?It’s not enough just to know that approvalwas gained from a recognised ethics committee(but they should mention this as well).Question 6:What perspective is the researcher coming from,and how has this been built into the study?Another bit of
–the extent to which
their own role,
potential bias and
inuence duringthe course of the
study. You need to
look at reexivityin the formulation of
the research questions, in the data generation,including how they recruited their sample and
in their choice of location. It is also criticalthat they explain how they responded toevents during the study and considered theimplications of any changes in the researchdesign.