7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

The development of an observational grid in the context of participatory action research in health organisations
2020-12-02, 14:25–14:40, Zoom Breakout Room 2

The development of an observational grid in the context of participatory action research in health organisations

Participant observation and the use of an observational grid can be used to help answer descriptive research questions associated with the meaningfulness of consumer engagement and to test associated hypotheses (DeWalt & DeWalt, 2002). Participant observation involves a researcher's involvement in a variety of activities, over an extended period of time, which enables them to observe the cultural members in their daily lives. This method also allows researchers to participate in activities to facilitate a better understanding of those behaviors and activities (Kawulich, 2005). Participant observation is an active engagement activity with research participants, requiring the researcher to balance the insider (emic) versus outside (etic) a continuum (DeWalt & DeWalt, 2002). Indeed, DeWalt and DeWalt (2002) believe that, "the goal for design of research using participant observation as a method is to develop a holistic understanding of the phenomena under study that is as objective and accurate as possible given the limitations of the method" (p.92).

The purpose of this presentation will be to discuss the development of an observational grid as tool for collecting and analysing data in qualitative research studies. An observational grid serves to remind the researcher of the events and issues of most importance by enabling a recording of their reflections of observable events in relation to their constructs of interest. The development of an observational grid, through the use of available evidence and the associated observational ‘memos’ , will be discussed as part of the video presentation. There is limited available information within the research literature regarding the development of an observational grid for the purpose of data collection but also analysis as part of qualitative research. As such, it is anticipated that feedback regarding the proposed process for development through presenting at this conference will contribute to this students’ methodological contribution in her PhD to qualitative research.

The observational grid will be used as part of the PhD candidates’ research relating to consumer engagement in health care. The concept of consumer engagement has emerged as an important trend in contemporary health services (Doyle, Lennox, & Bell, 2013). By providing insights and perspectives, patients can help the wider healthcare community better understand their needs and ultimately enhance the value of healthcare solutions and systems being developed (Bernard, 1994, Schensul, Schensul, & LeCompte, 1999). There is a growing body of evidence, which suggests that engagement of patients and their families leads to more empowered patients and more engaged patients have better perceived health outcomes (DeWalt & DeWalk, 1998; Fine, 2003) and improved quality of care. In summary, the development of an observational grid will assist with data collection and data analysis in the context of participatory action research in health organisations.


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