Impacting Research – Impacting Minds

Some thoughts from my Interview Log:

During the semi-structured interviews I became aware of certain practice staff changing their opinions and style of their answers as I asked certain questions. It was almost as if they were undergoing a review of their practice’s processes in their mind as we progressed through the interview. As the researcher, I felt that my questioning was drawing their attention to an areas they had previously paid little attention to but were now discovering strong reasons why they now should (or maybe should have done in the past).

The research process itself can therefore start to spark thoughts for change even before a project is completed.


On the 15th November I attended the first of a two part course on the qualitative analysis aid software NVivo9.  I hadn’t used the software before and I thought that it would be worth finding out how it could help me to organise my data for analysis. After conducting some more interviews, I was looking for a tool that could  facilitate the analysis of my interview transcripts. On first glance, the ‘dashboard’ didn’t appear to be quite as confusing as I thought it would be, with elements such as the Ribbon toolbar reminding me of parts of Microsoft Office:

   By the end of the day, I had learned the basics on how to code data (or assign category labels to texts that with enable similar comments by interviewees to be grouped together)  using ‘Nodes’ on a ficticious dataset, and how to query the dataset (asking the software to display certain data based on specific characteristics chosen by the user).  As is the case with most computer software, it is only as useful the user makes it and NVivo9 is simply a tool to help you with your anaylsis – it will not do any analysing for you!

I’m now in the process of applying the same techniques to my own interview data ahead of the next session so that I have real data to work with during the training.

‘Got a minute?’ – Interviewing

I have now visited two primary care organisations for interviews with health professionals and practice staff at each site. I would say that the interviewing experience and the data collected have both been interesting in their own way.  The interviews have shed light on the practices’ procedures when it comes to recording non-clinical patient information on each patient record and I look forward to analysing the responses.  One thing I have noticed is just how immensely busy some health professionals are! Although the meeting times had been scheduled in advance, it was common for the responses to be short and closed (with frequent clock-glancing by the interviewee!). Although I tried to prioritise the key question areas, I can see that some follow-up meetings with a couple of health professionals will be needed to fill in the gaps. Hopefully I can pick up where I left off.

Conducting Interviews for Health Research

Over the next month or so, I’m scheduled to interview members of a handful of general practice teams from GPs to practice managers and other practiced employed staff. The interviews will give me an insight as to what the practices are currently doing to discover and subsequently map the diversity in their own patient population.

I decided to arrange a meeting with Clare Jackson, a member of the SAPPHIRE team possessing years of experience in interviewing.   She was very helpful and able to give me tips as to how to get the most out of every interview (and how to save it when/if things start going pear-shaped!)

Clare has conducted challenging interviews as part her ongoing Oracle study, talking to children in hospital with cancer, and sometimes their parents too. Being fully aware of the interviewee’s background and circumstances was one of the central points I noted. Knowing this will help in selecting which interviewing techniques to deploy during the interview and will hopefully result in interesting responses for analysis later.

Important tip when conducting research with healthcare professionals:

Be aware of time –  Many health professionals are limited to the amount of time they can spend away from dealing directly with patients and patient records. It is important to remain concious of time to contain topic digressions and to steer them back to the interview’s original focus.