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CH 6 Observational Methods.docx

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CH 6 Observational MethodsChapter Summarythe strength of observational methods is that they provide data on phenomena They can be divided into participant methods where the researcher is present to some extent in the filed studied and nonparticipant methods where researchers observe a filed without involvement through for instance analyzing audiotapes of encounters Ethnographic accounts using participant observation have contributed detailed knowledge of how health beliefs are embedded in culture The practical and methodological issues raised by ethnographic research including doing ethnography close to home rapid appraisal methods and pseudopatient studies are discussed and this chapter briefly discusses the possibilities of utilizing nonparticipant methods by using analysis of naturally occurring data such as recordings of consultation in medical practiceAims of observational methodsif the aim of research is to understand a phenomenon rather than peoples accounts of it then observational methods are often cited as the gold standard of qualitative methods fiven that they provide direct access to what people doobservational methods allow the researcher to record the mundane and unremarkable to participants features of everyday life that interviewees might not feel worth commenting on and the context within which they occurpurest form of dataidea of observational data being the gold standard in terms of their validity is also a common theme in health research with observation often provided as illustrating the truth about some event or process in often ironic contrast to interview accounts or statistical recordscertainly there are a number of examples of observational studies on health topic that have demonstrated very nicely the limitations of other sources of data such as official records in terms of their reliability or validityobservational data are widely assumed to be archetypal qualitative method producing the most valid data on social behavior and demonstrating the unique contribution qualitative methods can make to researching health observational methods do have methodological advantages for many health research questions and are perhaps underused especially in applied research in part because of the time consuming nature of many approachesalso has negatives thoughParticipant and nonparticipant observation classic typology of observational methods was suggestedComplete observerobserver as participantparticipant as observercomplete participantat one end of the scale the complete participant is a researcher who is a native in the filed they are observing This includes reflexive insider accounts written by professionals or patients drawing on their own experiences as data for understanding a particular issuehowever in most studies the researcher is to some extent entering a field explicitly in order to research it The next roles identified the participant as observer and observer as participant describe classic ethnographic studies in which the researcher participates to a greater or lesser extent in the field that they are studying Ethnography can be defined as a method of research in which the resreacher participates overtly or covertly in ppls daily lives ofr an extended period of time watching what happens listening to what is being said asking question in fact collecting whatever data are available to throw light on the issues with which he or she is concerned
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