Qualitative interviewing with vulnerable populations: ethical considerations when conducting narrative interviews with young people with cancer

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Abstract

Young people with cancer are increasingly recognised as a small but uniquely vulnerable patient cohort whose wellbeing is complicated by the dual crisis of the stressors associated with an unanticipated life-threatening diagnosis and treatment at a critical transitional stage in the life course. Drawing on my experience of undertaking a doctoral study examining how hospital care can promote the wellbeing of teenagers and young adults with cancer involving multiple narrative interviews with young participants, this case study reflects on the ethics of conducting research with vulnerable populations on sensitive topics and considers the need to design and carry out qualitative research in a way that not only does ‘no harm’ but actively seeks to benefit participants. I describe how I actively sought to contribute positively to participant wellbeing in the study’s design and methods while ensuring the interview experience did not become confused with counselling. The use of participatory research methods including visual diagramming in qualitative narrative interviews is also examined as an ethical method of collecting rich information while offering support at a time of crisis.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationSage Research Methods Cases
PublisherSage
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • qualitative interviews; narratives; vulnerable young people; ethics; visual tools; illness

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