Recommend A Qualitative Design

Examples of Qualitative Designs to choose ONE from. Follow all instructions carefully

-Grounded Theory Approaches

-Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

-Discourse Analysis Approaches

-Narrative Analysis Approaches

Take on the role of a clinical psychologist treating clients for depression. You are interested in doing research on effective treatments for a chronic form of depression called dysthymia. In the DSM-5, it is referred to as persistent depressive disorder. Details regarding the disorder can be found in section 300.4(F34.1) of the DSM-5. In your review of the current materials attached, you find that most of the previous research on this disorder has been done using quantitative methods. Identify an aspect of this topic you feel should be studied using qualitative methods. Apply the scientific method to this research issue and develop a specific research question. Compare the characteristics and appropriate uses of various qualitative research designs and choose an appropriate qualitative  design for this research question. Create a feasible research design that includes plans for the sample selection, data collection, and data analysis. Apply ethical principles to your design by explaining how this type of qualitative design may affect the participants in your study and how you will deal with sociocultural issues.

REFERENCES TO BE USED

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Frost, N. (2011). Qualitative research methods in psychology. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.  (This is the textbook references for the four attachments attached. Chapter 2: Grounded Theory Approaches,Chapter 3: Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, Chapter 4: Discourse Analysis Approaches, Chapter 5: Narrative Analysis Approaches) please use one of these Qualitative design.

C H A P T E R 2

Grounded Theory

Approaches Sevasti-Melissa Nolas

Introduction

This chapter is about using grounded theory. It focuses on the development of grounded theory, the underlying assumptions of the approach and the ways it is used in research. The chapter will cover theoretical as well as practical issues relating to the use of grounded theory. The origins of grounded theory lie in the micro-sociological tradition of research and, as such, each section has been written with a view to relating that tradition to research topics in psychology. The chapter begins with a background and history of grounded theory. It continues with a discussion of the ontological and epistemological issues that underpin the grounded theory approach. The chapter provides a detailed description of what one needs to consider and do in carrying out a piece of grounded theory research. Examples and refl ections on practice are given throughout, and ethics considerations are also discussed.

History

Grounded theory is an approach used to study action and interaction and their meaning. It was developed by Barney G. Glaser and Anselm L. Strauss, two American sociologists working at the University of California, San Francisco, in the 1960s. They developed the approach while studying the way in which health professionals cared for the ill in American hospitals, and especially how they managed the issues of death and dying. Their interest in the topic developed from the observation that discussions of death and dying were at the time absent from the American public sphere. They wanted to explore how that absence affected those contexts in which death and dying occur and so their study explored how a social issue (absence of public discussion on death) impacted on professional practice in a clinical setting. The social issue they identifi ed was the lack of public discussion around death and the process of dying. Awareness of Dying (1965) is now a seminal text, as is The Discovery of Grounded Theory (1967), which Glaser and Strauss wrote to outline the research approach they were using.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 26 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

Ontology 17

Glaser and Strauss continued to work together for a number of years before developing separate intellectual trajectories. Glaser’s approach emphasises the emergence of theory from the data without the imposition of the analyst’s conceptual categories onto the data. Glaser’s work emphasises the opportunity grounded theory offers for developing ‘formal theory’ (see, for example, Glaser, 2007). Strauss’s take on grounded theory emphasised the symbolic interactionist roots of the approach, which concentrate on the construction of meaning through everyday interaction. Strauss, with Juliet Corbin (1990), wrote a detailed book on ‘how to do’ grounded theory, Basics of Qualitative Research, which is still widely used. Anselm L. Strauss passed away in 1996 (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 5). Barney G. Glaser is still writing and teaching on grounded theory, and runs workshops in a number of cities.

Since its early days, grounded theory has been developed by a number of Glaser and Strauss’s students as well as others (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007). It is still a popular approach for studying action and interaction and, although Glaser has always maintained that it is or can be a mixed-method approach, it is frequently used for qualitative research in areas such as nursing, social work, clinical psychology and other helping professions.

Ontology

The ontological orientation of grounded theory has its roots in early sociological thought, pragmatism and symbolic interactionism (Star, 2007), which draw on European (French) and North American social science at the end of the nineteenth and turn of the twentieth centuries.

Grounded theory follows in the path opened by the founder of sociology, Emile Durkheim, in espousing the idea that social facts exist and that the empirical study of these facts constitutes a true scientifi c endeavour (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 22). From the pragmatist tradition, we fi nd in grounded theory the idea that our under- standing is built on consequences and not antecedents (Star, 2007: 86). This means that knowledge is created retrospectively. This is in contrast to other philosophical orientations that emphasise the prospective creation of models, which subsequently await verifi cation. Like pragmatism, grounded theory also assumes the existence of an objective reality, but one that is complex and consists of a number of overlapping, complementary as well as contradictory perspectives (Star, 2007: 87); grounded theory also draws our attention to action and interaction as meaningful units of analysis in their own right. Action is created through the relationships between people; it is treated as an ongoing, continuously unfolding social fact (Star, 2007: 90).

The way in which grounded theory understands action and interaction has its roots in the symbolic interactionist tradition that emerged out of the Chicago School of micro-sociology. According to symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969; Stryker, 1981; Prus, 1996; Rock, 2001; Sandstrom, Martin & Fine, 2003), social reality is intersubjective, it consists of communal life with shared linguistic or symbolic dimensions that is also refl ective of those shared meanings. Refl exivity means that

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 27 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

 

 

18 Chapter 2 Grounded Theory Approaches

people are able to attribute meaning to their being and in doing so develop lines of action. People are also able to take the perspective of the other (Mead, 1934).

Activities organise human group life. While we create meaning out of behaviour intersubjectively, it is activities that organise human life. In turn we tend to spend a good deal of time negotiating such activities and building relationships through these activities. We are able to both accept and resists others’ infl uences and, as such, activities are multidimensional, implying cooperation, competition, confl ict and compromise. At the same time, the relationships we form say something about the role and identities we create, as well as how our communities are organized. Symbolic interactionism deals with process by thinking about human lived experi- ences as ‘emergent or ongoing social constructions or productions’ (Prus, 1996: 17).

The emphasis in symbolic interactionism on action, interaction and activity has been inherited by grounded theory and has led to the approach being adopted as a preferred method for understanding practice in a number of disciplines and applied settings.

Epistemology

When thinking about the epistemology underlying grounded theory it is common to categorise the various historical periods of grounded theory as either positivist or constructivist. Certainly, as Bryant and Charmaz (2007: 50) point out, Glaser and Strauss’s initial work (1967) espoused a number of positivist assumptions about the existence of an objective reality that is unmediated by the researcher’s or others’ interpretations of it. Later developments of grounded theory that have taken their inspiration from social constructionism are more amenable to a view of reality that is mediated through language and other forms of symbolic representation (Burr, 1995). However, categorising grounded theory approaches in this way, as either positivist or constructivist, is unhelpful because it risks missing what is most useful and enduring about these approaches (Clarke, 2005; Bryant & Charmaz, 2007). This section looks at key epistemological underpinnings of grounded theory to help to determine the usefulness of each for designing and carrying out grounded theory research.

The epistemology of grounded theory is essentially one of resistance to pre- existing knowledge, and of managing the tensions between the empirical phenomena and abstract concepts. Grounded theory’s various legacies play a key role here. In symbolic interactionism, the distinction is made between knowing about a phenomenon and being acquainted with a phenomenon (Downes & Rock, 1982: 37, cited in Van Maanen, 1988: 18). The shift of emphasis from knowledge about something to acquaintance with a phenomenon has resulted in the creation of a small niche within the discipline of sociology, not so much concerned with building broad conceptual models but instead with creating understanding of ‘the vigorous, dense, heterogeneous cultures located just beyond the university gates’ (Van Maanen, 1988: 18–20). Grounded theory embodied this tradition when Glaser and Strauss encouraged their students to challenge the ‘theoretical capitalism’ involved

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 28 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

Epistemology 19

in the fi ne-tuning of existing theories (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 17). The call to leave armchair theorising behind also has implications for how research is conducted, but we will return to this point in the next section, on method.

The tension between the empirical and the conceptual is managed through an iterative process of data collection and analysis. Knowledge in grounded theory is arrived at through this process. The approach relies on the analyst moving back and forth between their empirical data and their analysis of it (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 1). In this process there are three distinct analytical practices employed towards the creation of knowledge, as described below.

Constant comparison

Knowledge in grounded theory is derived through a process of constant comparison. Comparison in grounded theory is not used to verify existing theory (see above). Instead it is used to generate and discover new categories and theories by juxtaposing one instance from the data with another (Covan, 2007: 63). Comparing and contrasting instances in this way enables the analyst to look for similarities and differences across the data in order to elucidate the meanings and processes that shape the phenomenon being studied. Similarities can be grouped together into categories. Categories are more abstract than initial codes, and begin to group together codes with similar signifi cance and meaning, as well as grouping common themes and patterns across codes into a single analytical concept (Charmaz, 2006: 186). Categories are then compared with each other to produce theory. Differences, on the other hand, far from presenting a problem to the analyst, are treated as opportunities to extend the analysis in order to account for the role that such differences play in the phenomena under investigation. In fact, Glaser and Strauss (1967) placed a good deal of emphasis on the value of analysing extreme cases that might challenge, and therefore enrich, an emerging theory (Covan, 2007: 63). The process of using extreme cases, or negative cases, to extend the analysis is called theoretical sampling (see page 28).

Abduction

Reichertz (2007) defi nes abduction as ‘a cognitive logic of discovery’. It is a form of inference used especially for dealing with surprising fi ndings in our data. It directs the analyst to make sense of their data and produce explanations that make surprising fi ndings unsurprising (Reichertz, 2007: 222).

Abduction is different to deduction and induction. Deduction subordinates the single case into an already known rule or category, and induction generalises single cases into a rule or category by focusing either on quantitative or qualitative properties of a sample and extending them into a rule or category. Abduction, on the other hand, creates a new rule or category in order to account for a case present in the data that cannot be explained by existing rules or categories (Reichertz, 2007: 218–219).

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 29 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

 

20 Chapter 2 Grounded Theory Approaches

There are two strategies involved in abduction, both of which require creating the conditions in order for abductive reasoning to take place (Reichertz, 2007: 221).

1 The fi rst is a ‘self-induced emergency situation’ (Reichertz, 2007: 221). This means that in the face of not knowing what to make of a surprising fi nding, rather than dwelling on the infi nite number of possibilities, the analyst puts pressure on themselves to act by committing to a single meaning.

2 The second strategy is completely antithetical to the fi rst. It involves letting your mind wander without any specifi c goal in mind, or what Pierce (1931–1935), a key writer on abduction, called ‘musement’ (Reichertz, 2007: 221).

What these two quite antithetical strategies have in common is tricking the thinking patterns of the conscious mind in order to create ‘an attitude of preparedness to abandon old convictions and to seek new ones’ (Reichertz, 2007: 221).

Reflexivity

Refl exivity is not often associated with Glaser and Strauss’s original formulation of grounded theory. Yet the impetus behind Awareness of Dying was deeply personal, both men having experienced bereavement in the period preceding the study (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 7; Star, 2007: 82). Lempert (2007: 247) notes that grounded theory in its original formulations presumed that the researcher as a research instrument was a ‘neutral knower’. Mruck and Mey (2007: 518) suggest that Glaser’s emphasis on allowing theory to emerge means that there is little room for refl exivity in Glaserean grounded theory, which would impose on that emergence. On the other hand, Strauss and Corbin’s approach, rooted far more in symbolic interactionism, takes the view that the researcher’s biography, and the sociocultural infl uences therein, infl uence the researcher’s theories and interests (Mruck & Mey, 2007: 518).

Given developments in qualitative research methods in psychology and the central role that refl exivity has played in those (Willig, 2000) we would encourage a refl exive stance to grounded theory. The approach’s emphasis on action, including that of the researcher(s), indicates that there is ample room for developing a refl exive stance in grounded theory. Indeed, like Mruck and Mey (2007), I have in my own teaching of research methods always put forward the view of research as a continuous process of decision making (Marshall & Rossman, 1989: 23). Accordingly, and at the very least, refl exivity is a way of making the research process less esoteric, and more transparent and accountable to one’s colleagues and the public. It is also a way of developing theoretical sensitivity (another staple of grounded theory) of the context and processes one is researching. For instance, early experiences of action research and my refl ection on the meaning and dynamics of those experiences led me to formulate my own research project that looked at the gaps between formal and informal discourses of action (Nolas, 2009; see Refl ection

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 30 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

Methods 21

on Practice on page 37 of this chapter). In this regard, refl exivity plays an epistemological role in opening a space for the creation of new knowledge.

Methods

Grounded theory’s focus is on action and interaction, and it is suitable for answering event-orientated questions such as ‘What is happening?’ (Glaser, 1978, cited in Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 21). The symbolic interactionist tradition lends itself to exploratory questions of how, while the emphasis on constant comparison provides the tools for the more explanatory questions of why to be answered.

In this process in grounded theory everything is considered to be data, though notably, and because of the emphasis on building theory, data is certainly not everything in a research project (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007: 14). This is because the parameters of research design are drawn up according to the action or activity that one is studying. Everything in relation to that action then becomes data. This is quite a different approach to what many psychologists might be used to. In psychology we tend to make strong demarcations between our theories, methods and data. These boundaries are much more blurred in grounded theory, which is often des- cribed as an iterative process of data collection, analysis and further data collec- tion. We will deal with the practicalities of data collection and analysis in the next section. Here we will explore the methods themselves, starting with a discussion of theoretical sensitivity – a starting point, if there is such a thing, in grounded theory.

Theoretical sensitivity

Grounded theory begins with theoretical sensitivity, which is defi ned as ‘the researcher’s ability to understand subtleties and nuances in the data’ (Singh, 2003: 310). For example, when Singh (2003; 2004) was researching attention defi cit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) her historical analysis of the ADHD literature and her own immersion in the fi eld through participant observation in a clinical setting and teaching at a primary school had sensitised her to a number of issues relating to the study of ADHD. For instance, she observed that in the clinic setting fathers tended to be less involved in issues relating to their child’s (mainly sons) diagnosis and management of ADHD. She also found that articles that referred to ‘parents‘ and ‘children’ in relation to ADHD very often meant mothers and sons. As such, she decided to sample and interview both mothers and fathers about their experiences of being the parent of a child diagnosed with ADHD.

Ethnographic fieldwork

Like grounded theory, ethnography is also a boundary-spanning (Tedlock, 2003: 165) activity. It is an approach widely used in sociology and anthropology. With some notable exceptions in social psychology (Jahoda, Lazarsfeld & Zeisel, 1972;

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 31 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

22 Chapter 2 Grounded Theory Approaches

Thomas & Znaniecki, 1996; Bradbury, 1999), cultural psychology (Cole, 1996) and clinical psychology (Bloor, McKeganey & Fokert, 1988; Gubrium, 1992, both cited in McLeod, 2001), for the most part the ethnographic approach is not widely used in psychological research. Similarly, and as Timmermans and Tavory (2007) point out, while grounded theory has its roots in ethnographic research, over time the link between grounded theory as an approach to both data collection as well as analysis has weakened considerably, making grounded theory ‘fi rst and foremost a systematic qualitative data analysis approach’ (2007: 494).

There are two reasons to focus on ethnography when conducting grounded theory research. On the one hand, it is the bedrock of the symbolic interactionist tradition from which one form of grounded theory emerged. It broadens the scope for collecting types of data that are not readily amenable to more common qualitative research methods, such as cultural practices that we engage in with others that do not always form part of our conscious or codifi ed knowledge – knowledge that is communicated through language. These might include such things as the systems of classifi cation that shape our work and everyday lives (Bowker & Star, 1999), how village life is organised around an open psychiatric community keeping the sane and the mad apart (Jodelet, 1991), or the ritual processes in the discourses that surround death in contemporary Britain (Bradbury, 1999). It also provides us with a useful framework of ‘fi eldwork’ for organising a range of data (such as documents, letters, internet postings, news articles) that crop up in the process of and are related to the activities being investigated. As such, there are a number of useful lessons that can be drawn from thinking about data collection methods ethnographically.

Participant observation

Ethnographic fi eldwork relies on the researcher spending a considerable amount of time in the context in which their research interests reside. This could be an organisation or community, a network of people or any other relevant grouping. The aim of the approach is to achieve an ‘intimate familiarity’ (Prus, 1996) with the subject matter. Ethnographic studies are ‘naturalistic’ (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995: 3) meaning that the researcher seeks to observe people and their interactions as they occur, in situ. Observation here is in stark contrast to the usual meaning found in psychology; its meaning lies much closer to the everyday activities of noticing, paying attention to and taking note of particular situations or interactions of interest in a purposeful manner. It frequently crosses over into participation of various degrees as researchers apprentice themselves to the routines of others’ lives. Such an approach is in contrast to experimental approaches to psychological research where people are removed from their context and daily activities and their behaviour is manipulated through experimental design. It is also different to interviewing and focus groups, which while allowing participants to use their own language and give meaning to discussion topics still brackets these moments of recounting experience from the rest of daily life. It is also different to clinical uses of observation, such as one-way mirrors, because its aim is not to compare actions

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 32 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

 

 

Methods 23

with, and the extent to which they deviate from, previously established norm. Instead, observation in ethnographic research is a way of collecting contextual information, inclusive of people’s interactions. It is largely unstructured by the researcher and has to follow the rhythm of the situation or context. The researcher is, depending on their prior familiarity with the research context, largely unaware of the social norms but ends up learning about those by purposefully, but quite often inadvertently, disrupting them with their presence.

Informal interviews

In the ethnographic process, informal interviews abound. They are part and parcel of participant observation. The term ‘informal interview’ refers to unplanned research-relevant or related conversations that might take place and which the researcher records in their fi eldnotes after the event. Such interviews are much closer to conversations and do not necessarily follow a structured or semi-structured format. The interviews are often prompted by the researchers’ questions as they try to fi nd out what is going on and why certain things are being carried out in the way they are. They might also be prompted by individuals in the fi eld wanting to communicate information to the researcher that they think might be relevant to the study. Informal interviews can be individual interviews as well as group interviews.

Formal interviews and focus groups

Interviewing can be regarded as the formalised method of interpersonal commu- nication used for research. It is ‘essentially a technique or method for establishing or discovering that there are perspectives or viewpoints on events other than those of the person initiating the interview’ (Farr, 1982, in Gaskell, 2000: 38). There are a number of excellent publications on the topic of interviewing (e.g. Kvale, 1996) and, for this reason, I will not go into it in a huge amount of detail here. In outline, inter- views have been described as a ‘purposive conversation’ (Kvale, 1996). The structure and formality of interviews ranges from fully structured with standardised questions, to semi-structured that include a few guide questions but are generally informed by the interviewee, and completely unstructured in which the participant directs the interview in its entirety. Similarly, focus group discussions are often organised around topics but can equally involve structured activities, such as viewing videos or pictures, or sorting through issues relevant to the research, as a way of engaging participants, developing conversation and accessing views on and experiences of the topic under investigation (see Gaskell, 2000).

Documents, archives

In psychological research we tend not to include documents in our data other than perhaps as protocols for guiding our own action (e.g. research proposals, interview

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 33 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:24:32.

 

24 Chapter 2 Grounded Theory Approaches

topic guides). Yet if you think about psychology and its practices (experiments, surveys, interviews, clinical interventions) as a socio-cultural activity you will fi nd that documents play a central role in that practice. In clinical psychology, for instance, manuals are a very important aspect of practice, especially if one is interested in empirically testing the effi cacy of the therapeutic approach with which one practises. Consider change practices in different types of organisations. These are …

C H A P T E R 3

Interpretative

Phenomenological

Analysis Pnina Shinebourne

Introduction

This chapter is about interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA). IPA is an approach to qualitative research that explores in detail personal lived experience to examine how people are making sense of their personal and social world. It tries to understand what the world is like from the point of view of the participants. At the same time, IPA acknowledges that this understanding is always mediated by the context of cultural and socio-historical meanings. Therefore, the process of making sense of experience is inevitably interpretative and the role of the researcher in trying to make sense of the participant’s account is complicated by the researcher’s own conceptions.

The fi rst part of this chapter presents the history of IPA, and shows how it has evolved to take its place in psychological research. The theoretical underpinnings of the approach are discussed, and this is followed by a consideration of the epistemological and ontological frameworks IPA employs. A detailed presentation of the stages involved in doing IPA follows, with illustrations taken from a study exploring the experience of women in rehabilitation for their problems of addiction. The chapter concludes with refl ections on using IPA.

History of IPA

IPA was fi rst used as a distinctive research method in psychology in the mid-1990s. Smith (1996) drew on theoretical ideas from phenomenology (Giorgi, 1995), hermeneutics (Palmer, 1969), and on an engagement with subjective experience and personal accounts (Smith, Harré & Van Langenhove, 1995). IPA is also infl uenced by symbolic interactionism (Eatough & Smith, 2008). Symbolic interactionism pro- vides a theoretical perspective with basic assumptions that people act on the basis of the meanings that things have for them and that meanings emerge in the processes of social interaction between people (Blumer, 1969). Thus, meanings are constructed and modifi ed through an interpretative process that is subject to change and redefi nition (Blumer, 1969). In this way ‘people form new meanings and new ways

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 54 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Ontology of IPA 45

to respond and thus are active in shaping their own future through the process of interpreting meaning’ (Benzies & Allen, 2001: 544).

By combining insights from phenomenology, hermeneutic philosophy and engagement with subjective experience, IPA proposes a middle way between dif- ferent qualitative methods. In common with phenomenological psychology it offers researchers an avenue to study subjective experiences and the meanings that people attribute to their experience. In common with discursive psychology, IPA accepts that the research process is fundamentally hermeneutic, with both researcher and participants engaging in interpretative activities that are constrained by shared social and cultural discourses.

This synthesis of ideas from different perspectives has led to the development of a distinctive qualitative psychological methodology. As Willig (2008) contends, the introduction of IPA into psychology has made phenomenological methodology accessible to those who do not have a philosophical background. In addition, by developing detailed descriptions of the analytic process, those new to IPA are encouraged to use it in their own research (Willig, 2008).

Much of the early use of IPA was concerned with health and illness (for a recent review of IPA’s use in health psychology see Brocki & Wearden, 2006). Other key areas for IPA research are sex and sexuality, psychological distress, and issues of life transitions and identity (for overviews of research in these areas see Smith, Flowers & Larkin, 2009). As Smith et al. (2009) point out, issues of identity are intertwined with most of the research in health and illness, sexuality and psychological distress. They contend that, as IPA research often concerns topics of considerable existential signifi cance, it is likely that the participants will link the specifi c topic to their sense of self/identity.

Ontology of IPA

Although IPA is grounded in the experiential dimension in its concern with a detailed examination of individual lived experience and how people are mak- ing sense of that experience, it ‘endorses social constructionism’s claim that sociocultural and historical processes are central to how we experience and under- stand our lives, including the stories we tell about these lives’ (Eatough & Smith, 2008: 184). In this respect it can be located at a centre-ground position between experiential approaches such as descriptive phenomenology and discursive ap- proaches such as discourse analysis. In the experiential approaches the focus is on participants’ experiences and how they make sense of their experiences. The discursive approaches are focused on language as a social action that is used to construct and create the social world (Reicher, 2000).

The different qualitative methods are grounded in different epistemological stances (Henwood, 1996; Willig, 2008). These vary signifi cantly, as ‘they have different philosophical roots, they have different theoretical assumptions and they ask different types of questions’ (Reicher, 2000: 4). However, there is considerable overlap between qualitative methods (Lyons, 2007; Charmaz & Henwood, 2008;

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 55 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

46 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Smith et al., 2009) and the distinction between the different approaches can be conceived in terms of a continuum from the experiential to the discursive, and from the empiricist to the constructionist (Lyons, 2007; Willig, 2008). With its focus on content and systematic analysis of a text to identify themes and categories, IPA shares some similarities with grounded theory (Willig, 2008). Through its concern with meaning-making IPA also shares strong intellectual links with narrative analysis (Crossley, 2007; Smith et al., 2009). Eatough and Smith (2006) maintain that ‘IPA shares some common ground with Foucauldian discourse analysis [FDA], which examines how people’s worlds are discursively constructed and how these are implicated in the experiences of the individual’ (2006: 118–119).

In this respect IPA can be described as located at the ‘light end of the social constructionist continuum’ (Eatough & Smith, 2006) in relation to discourse analysis. Smith et al. (2009) suggest that ‘while IPA studies provide a detailed experiential account of the person’s involvement in the context, FDA offers a critical analysis of the structure of the context itself and thus touches on the resources available to the individual in making sense of their experience’ (2009: 196).

Why do IPA?

IPA has been described as ‘an approach to qualitative, experiential and psychological research which has been informed by concepts and debates from three key areas of philosophy of knowledge: phenomenology, hermeneutics and idiography’ (Smith et al., 2009: 11). IPA draws on each of these theoretical approaches to inform its distinctive epistemological framework and research methodology.

Phenomenology is both a philosophical approach and a range of research methods concerned with how things appear to us in our experience. Edmund Husserl (1859–1938) initiated modern phenomenology at the beginning of the twentieth century and since then it has become a major philosophical movement that has impacted on many strands of contemporary philosophy (Zahavi, 2008). Other phenomenological philosophers – namely, Heidegger, Sartre and Merleau- Ponty – contributed to the philosophical perspective of a person as embodied, embedded and immersed in the world in a particular historical, social and cultural context (for a comprehensive overview of phenomenology see Moran, 2000). Phenomenology as a research method draws on the phenomenological philosophy initiated by Husserl. Although a number of diverse approaches have been developed, the focus on subjective experience has remained a fundamental principle of all phenomenologically informed research methods, including IPA (for a discussion of various phenomenological approaches in psychology, see Langdridge, 2007).

Hermeneutics, the theory of interpretation, constitutes another major theoretical underpinning of IPA. Historically, hermeneutics developed from interpretations of biblical texts but was subsequently established as a philosophical foundation for a more general theory of interpretation. Although phenomenology and herme- neutics were developed as two separate philosophical movements, Heidegger

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 56 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Why do IPA? 47

(1962) presented hermeneutics as a prerequisite to phenomenology. According to Heidegger, the meaning of hermeneutic resides in ‘the whole manner in which human existence is interpretative’ (Moran, 2000: 235). Thus, Moran contends that:

Phenomenology is seeking after a meaning which is perhaps hidden by the entity’s mode of appearing. In that case the proper model for seeking meaning is the interpretation of a text and for this reason Heidegger links phenomenology with hermeneutics. How things appear or are covered up must be explicitly studied. The things themselves always present themselves in a manner which is at the same time self-concealing. (Moran, 2000: 229)

In this view, interpretation is a necessary part of phenomenology because the entity’s mode of appearing may conceal something that is hidden. The task of inter- preting is therefore to engage in the dynamic of conceal/reveal, making manifest what may lie hidden. In Heidegger’s conception, every interpretation is already contextualised in previous experience in a particular context, as according to Heidegger, human existence is fundamentally related to the world: human beings are thrown into a world in a particular historical, social and cultural context (Heidegger, 1962). From this perspective, understanding of events or objects in the world is always mediated and constrained by already existing knowledge: ‘Interpre- tation is grounded in something we have in advance’ (Heidegger, 1962: 191). Heidegger recognises the danger that such preconceptions may present an obstacle to interpretation (Smith et al., 2009) and, therefore, in interpretation priority should be given to the new object rather than to one’s preconceptions. Interpretation is thus envisaged as a dynamic process, an interplay between the interpreter and the object of interpretation.

Idiography constitutes the third theoretical underpinning of IPA. An idiographic approach aims for an in-depth focus on the particular and a commitment to detailed fi nely textured analysis of actual life and lived experience (Smith et al., 2009). A commitment to idiography is linked to a rationale for single case studies. Smith (2004) suggests that a detailed analysis of a single case would be justifi ed when one has a particularly rich or compelling case. A detailed single case study offers opportunities to learn a great deal about the particular person and their response to a specifi c situation, as well as to consider connections between different aspects of the person’s account. It is also possible to consider a case study as a part of a larger study involving a number of participants. The individual case can be used as a starting point in the process of analytic induction, affording an opportunity for working from the ground up by drawing together additional cases to move towards more general claims. Perhaps the important point to consider is that the details of a single case also illuminate a dimension of a shared commonality, as ‘the very detail of the individual also brings us closer to signifi cant aspects of a shared humanity’ (Smith, 2004: 43).

IPA draws on each of these theoretical approaches to inform its distinctive epistemological framework and research methodology, as described below.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 57 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

48 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

■ IPA is phenomenological in its detailed examination of the personal lived experience of practical engagement with the world and in exploring how participants make sense of their experience. IPA acknowledges that the understanding of an event or an object is always mediated by the context of cultural and socio-historical meanings. The term lived experience is often used ‘to encompass the embodied, socio-culturally and historically situated person who inhabits an intentionally interpreted and meaningfully lived world’ (Eatough & Smith, 2008: 181). In agreement with Heidegger’s views, IPA considers phenomenological inquiry as an interpretative process. In this view, interpretation is necessary because the entity’s mode of appearing may conceal something that is hidden. Consistent with its phenomenological underpinning, IPA is concerned with trying to understand what it is like from the point of view of the participants. At the same time, a detailed IPA analysis can also involve asking critical questions of participants’ accounts. Thus, interpretation can be descriptive and empathic, aiming to produce ‘rich experiential descriptions’, and also critical and questioning ‘in ways which participants might be unwilling or unable to do themselves’ (Eatough & Smith, 2008: 189).

■ IPA is interpretative in recognising the role of the researcher in making sense of the experience of participants. Smith (2004) refers to ‘double hermeneutics: The participant is trying to make sense of their personal and social world; the researcher is trying to make sense of the participant trying to make sense of their personal and social world’ (2004: 40). The researcher’s point of access to participants’ experience is through their accounts, usually obtained through direct contact with participants. The concept of ‘double hermeneutics’ refers also to the researcher’s own involvement through their own preconceptions and ‘prejudices’, which may constitute an obstacle to interpretation (Smith, 2007) unless priority is given to the phenomenon under investigation. Drawing on Ricoeur’s (1970) distinction between two strategies for understanding meaning – namely, a hermeneutics of meaning recollection, of empathic engagement, and a hermeneutics of suspicion, of critical engagement – Smith (2004) has argued that both modes of hermeneutic engagement can contribute to a more complete understanding of the participant’s lived experience. However, ‘within such an analysis the empathic reading is likely to come fi rst and may then be qualifi ed by a more critical and speculative refl ection’ (Smith, 2004: 46). Smith et al. (2009) maintain that IPA occupies a ‘centre-ground position’ whereby it is possible to combine a hermeneutic of empathy with a hermeneutic of questioning ‘so long as it serves to “draw out” or “disclose” the meaning of the experience’ (2009: 36), in contrast to employing a theoretical perspective imported from outside the text. Larkin, Watts and Clifton (2006) contend that the strategies chosen by the analyst ‘may be informed by prior experience and knowledge, psychological theory, or previous research – provided that they can be related back to a phenomenological account’ (2006: 116).

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 58 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Why do IPA? 49

■ IPA is idiographic in its focus on detailed examination of particular instances, either in a single case study or in studies of a small group of cases. In such studies the analytic process begins with the detailed analysis of each case, moving to careful examination of similarities and differences across cases to produce detailed accounts of patterns of meaning and refl ections on shared experience. A single case study offers an opportunity to learn a great deal about a particular person in a specifi c context, as well as focusing on different aspects of a particular account. In addition, through connecting the fi ndings to existing psychological literature, the IPA writer can help the reader to see how the case relates to other relevant research. IPA is particularly suitable for research where the ‘focus is on the uniqueness of a person’s experiences, how experiences are made meaningful and how these meanings manifest themselves within the context of the person both as an individual and in their many cultural roles, for example as an MS or epilepsy sufferer, as a parent, sibling, employee, student, friend, spouse’ (Shaw, 2001: 48). For example, in health psychology, in order to understand the meanings and the signifi cance of a particular condition for a person’s everyday life, the researcher may need to gain access to in-depth accounts of individuals’ experiences. At the same time, studies of several participants also highlight the shared themes and concerns. In addition, the individual case can be used as a starting point in the process of analytic induction, affording an opportunity for theory development from the ground up by drawing together additional cases to move towards more general claims.

Examples of suitable research include explorations of questions like:

■ How do people make decisions about taking a genetic test? ■ What is it like to experience anger? ■ What is it like to donate a kidney? ■ What is it like to be the carer for a person with Alzheimer’s? ■ How do couples make the decision to have children?

The approach to recruiting participants for an IPA study follows from the theoretical account of the epistemology of IPA. This means that participants are selected purposively. Purposive sampling refers to a method of selecting participants because they have particular features or characteristics that will enable detailed exploration of the phenomena being studied. Because the primary concern of IPA is with a detailed account of individual experience, IPA studies usually benefi t from an intensive focus on a small number of participants. Sample size can vary according to the research question and the quality of the data obtained. In the studies reviewed by Brocki and Wearden (2006) participant numbers vary from one to thirty, although they point out that a consensus towards the use of smaller sample sizes seems to be emerging. As discussed above, IPA also makes a strong case for a single case study, which could be justifi ed when one has a particularly rich or compelling case. Smith

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 59 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

50 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

et al. (2009) suggest a sample size between three and six for undergraduate or master’s-level IPA projects.

IPA researchers usually try to identify a homogeneous sample. With a small number of participants it seems helpful to think in terms of a defi ned group of participants for whom the research questions will be meaningful. Making a decision on the extent of ‘homogeneity’ is guided by the focus of the study. An investigation of a phenomenon that is rare (for example, living with a rare genetic disorder) may in itself defi ne the boundaries of the relevant sample. Alternatively, with less specifi c issues the sample may be drawn from a population with similar demographic or socio-economic status.

IPA requires a data collection method that will invite participants to offer rich, detailed, fi rst-person accounts of experiences. Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews have been used most often, as they are particularly useful for in-depth idiographic studies exploring how participants are making sense of experiences. Such interviews enable the researcher and participant to engage in a dialogue, modify questions and follow interesting aspects that come up during the interview (for overviews of quality and concerns over the status and use of interview data see, for example, Atkinson, Coffey & Delamont, 2003; Roulston, 2010). However, other methods suitable for colleting rich verbal accounts have been used – for example, diaries (e.g. Smith, 1999), focus groups (e.g. Flowers, Knussen & Duncan, 2001) and email dialogues (Turner, Barlow & Ilbery, 2002).

It is helpful to envisage the interaction during interviews as a conversation, which although guided by the researcher’s pre-prepared questions, opens up a space for participants to provide detailed accounts of experiences guided by their own concerns. During the interview, it may be more fruitful to follow unexpected turns initiated by the participant’s accounts, rather than adhering to the specifi c questions in the original sequence. As Smith et al. (2009) contend, ‘unexpected turns are often the most valuable aspects of interviewing: on the one hand, they tell us something we did not even anticipate needing to know; on the other, because they arise unprompted, they may well be of particular importance to the participant’ (Smith et al., 2009: 58).

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 60 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Why do IPA? 51

Arroll, M. & Senior, V. (2008) Individuals’ experience of chronic fatigue syndrome/ myalgic encephalomyelitis: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Psychology & Health, 23(4), 443–458.

Background

Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a condition of unknown aetiology that consists of symptoms such as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, gastric problems and a range of neurological disturbances. Previous qualitative research in the area of CFS/ME has focused on participants’ beliefs about the cause of their illness and symptomatology, but the factors that infl uence how individuals with CFS/ME perceive their symptoms have not been investigated from a phenomenological epistemology. The authors contend that as CFS/ME has a wide-ranging infl uence on individuals’ lives, investigating this condition within the patients’ phenomenological experience will provide depth and detail to our present understanding of CFS/ME.

Method

Participants The sample consisted of two male and six female participants with ages ranging from 35 to 67. The average length of time the participants had been living with CFS/ME was 21.4 years, although this varied widely from 6 to 53 years.

Data collection Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews consisted of a range of open-ended questions, including prompts that allowed further elaboration of the topic under discussion. The interview started with a broad question – ‘Can you please describe to me how you became ill with CFS/ME?’ – and was followed by more specifi c topics: the cause of CFS/ME, the effect on one’s life, the process of diagnosis, and advice that one would give another individual who believed that he/she might be suffering from CFS/ME. The duration of the interviews was between 26 and 90 minutes, with an average interview lasting 40.8 minutes. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim.

Analysis The transcripts were analysed using IPA. The analysis followed the staged process described in Smith and Osborn (2003), fi rst for one transcript and then repeating the procedures for each transcript. In the fi nal stage the superordinate themes and sub-themes for the study as a whole were established. Six distinct themes that illustrated the participants’ experience and perception of their symptoms were identifi ed.

R e

s e

a rc

h E

x a

m p

le

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 61 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

52 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

R e

s e

a rc

h E

x a

m p

le

Findings

The paper illustrates the shared themes but also the particular details of individual participants’ experiences. In the present study, symptomatology and illness course, interference with daily and working life, frequency of symptoms, external information, diagnosis and treatment each played a part in the recognition of individuals’ symptoms as CFS/ME. Although the interviewees stated that fatigue was the predominant symptom of their illness, they listed a range of other symptoms including pain, gastrointestinal problems, cognitive diffi culties and sleep impairments. The narrative is constructed as a journey from the initial experience of bodily sensations, through the disruption these symptoms imposed on individuals’ lives. Trying to make sense of their experiences, participants initially evaluated their symptoms in terms of known diseases. When the known disease provided inadequate explanations of their symptoms, participants sought external information and a diagnosis to shed new light on their personal experience. However, a diagnosis of CFS/ME was not the end of the journey and, in fact, may have only been the beginning in the search for treatment.

Discussion

The symptomatological fi ndings in this study were in accordance with previous studies … As in the Cohn (1999) study, the participants described their predominant symptom in terms of energy levels, where an individual is allocated a set amount of energy and any expenditure that exceeds this amount will result in ill health. Equally, the description of CFS/ME symptomatology as fl uctuating in nature (Ware, 1999) was also apparent in the present study. However … it was not the symptoms themselves that concerned the interviewees, but rather the frequency of bodily disturbance (Radley, 1994). This incidence of symptoms prompted the interviewees to question whether their complaints were ‘everyday’ occurrences or a sign of a more serious underlying disorder. However, even with an increased understanding participants still had a struggle for recognition of their condition. Furthermore, even with a positive clinical diagnosis of CFS/ME the journey continued with a search for treatment.

The authors suggest that as the participants in the study had CFS/ME for many years, in future research it may be useful to look at individuals at different points in their condition. The authors conclude that by using a method of investigation that does not constrain the fi ndings to be interpreted in terms of pre-set hypotheses, their study has highlighted the lived experience and meaning- making of those with CFS/ME. The fi ndings should be useful for researchers and/ or practitioners to increase their understanding of the process by which indi- viduals recognise their symptomatology as being consistent with CFS/ME.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 62 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 53

Methods : how to do IPA

This section outlines step-by-step guidelines for conducting an IPA study, illustrated with an extended example from a study exploring the experience of women in rehabilitation for addiction problems. However, the stages described below should not be treated as the ‘correct’ method for doing IPA as IPA provides a fl exible framework that can be adapted by researchers in accordance with their research aims.

The research question

The main reason for choosing a research methodology is that it is consistent with the epistemological position of the research question. As IPA is concerned with the in-depth exploration of personal lived experience and with how people make sense of their experience, the type of research question suitable for an IPA study is likely to involve issues and experiences of considerable signifi cance to the participant. Often these are transformative issues concerned with personal and social identity. These could be current, emotive, dilemmatic issues or issues involving longer-term refl ection across the life course. The example box below lists the type of research question suitable for IPA studies.

Examples of research questions suitable for IPA studies

• How do people with chronic back pain describe the impact on their sense of self? (Smith & Osborn, 2007)

• How do people experience chronic fatigue syndrome? (Arroll & Senior, 2008)

• What does it mean to be a donor offspring? (Turner & Coyle, 2000) • How do HIV-positive women experience partner relationships?

(Jarman, Walsh & DeLacey, 2005).

Ex am

pl e

An IPA study starts with formulating suitable research questions. The questions are open and exploratory, designed to focus on exploring participants’ accounts of lived experience, understandings and sense-making within the particular context of their lives. The example box below illustrates the research questions that guided my project exploring the experience of women in rehabilitation for addiction problems (Shinebourne & Smith, 2009).

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 63 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

54 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

The fi rst two questions are descriptive, in line with a phenomenological approach, and they frame the accounts in the context of the participants’ world. The third question opens up an interpretative avenue for participants to refl ect on their own accounts in their attempts to make sense of their experiences. The fourth question provides a prompt to remain focused on the particular, the detail, texture and nuance of the participants’ lived experience.

Sample and recruitment of participants

Potential participants can be reached by approaching relevant groups, agencies or gatekeepers, through personal contacts, or through ‘snowballing’. Snowballing refers to a method of selecting a sample in which potential participants are asked whether they know of other people with relevant characteristics and experiences who might be approached. Snowball sampling is often used to fi nd and recruit ‘hidden populations’, groups not easily accessible to researchers through other sampling strategies. Participants in the rehabilitation study were recruited through agencies offering treatment and recovery programmes for people with problems of addiction. Considering that some participants in rehabilitation may be vulnerable, it seemed sensible to secure agencies’ support, not only in suggesting suitable possible participants, but also in providing follow-up support for participants. However, using agencies required obtaining consent both from the agency and the participant. The sample for the rehabilitation study consisted of six female participants who had been involved in their programmes for between one and two years. The age range was between 31 and 52 years.

Data collection

As noted above, IPA requires a data collection method that will invite participants to offer a rich, detailed, fi rst-person account of their experiences and phenomena. Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews have been used most often, and this method is used in the following example. An interview schedule should be prepared in

Research questions from project exploring the experience of women in rehabilitation for addiction problems

• How do the participants describe their experiences of addiction and recovery?

• In what contexts do their experiences occur? • How do the participants understand and make sense of their

experiences of addiction and recovery? • How are individual differences refl ected in the participants’

accounts of their experiences with alcohol/drug addiction and recovery?

Ex am

pl e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 64 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 55

The schedule starts with a question about the present, which provides a focus for participants to describe current issues in their life at some length. Questions about potentially sensitive issues and questions inviting refl ection appear later in the schedule. This allows time for participant and researcher to become more comfortable with each other and with the interview situation, and to feel their way

advance to help the researcher to anticipate and prepare for possible diffi culties – for example, in addressing sensitive issues and in question wording. Interview questions should be open and expansive, to encourage participants to talk at length. Questions should not make too many assumptions about participants’ experiences and should not lead towards particular answers. As some questions may be too abstract for some participants, it is helpful to prepare more specifi c prompts to be used if required. It is usually helpful to start the interview with a descriptive question about the present, as in the example box below, which illustrates the interview schedule for the rehabilitation study.

Interview schedule from project exploring the experience of women in rehabilitation for addiction problems (extract)

1. Can you tell me what place alcohol/drug has in your life at the moment?

Possible prompts: What happens? How do you feel? How do you cope?

2. Can you tell me about a recent time when you used alcohol/drugs? Possible prompts: What happened? How did you feel? How did you

cope? 3. Can you describe how alcohol/drinking/using drugs affects your

relationships with other people? Possible prompts: Partner, family, friends, work colleagues? 4. Can you tell me how you started drinking/using drugs? Possible prompts: How long ago? What do you think brought this

about? Can you describe how you felt about alcohol/drugs at that time?

5. Have you changed the ways you used alcohol/drugs over time? Possible prompts: In what ways? Does anything make it better?

Does anything make it worse? How do you feel about these changes?

6. What would be for you a positive development? Possible prompts: How can your situation improve? Can you

imagine what it would feel like?

Ex am

pl e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 65 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

56 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

into the dynamics and rhythm of the interview. Prompts are prepared in case participants fi nd it diffi cult to respond, and to offer them a range of possible routes. The schedule includes ten questions that tend to occupy between 45 and 60 minutes of conversation, depending on the topic.

Analysis

IPA provides a fl exible framework of processes and strategies for analysis. Analysis in IPA is an iterative, complex and creative process that requires the researcher’s refl ective engagement in a dialogue with a participant’s narrative and meanings. Although in practice the analysis is fl uid, iterative and multi-directional, for the purpose of illustrating the process here it is useful to describe distinct stages.

C A S E S T U D Y

Constructing an interview schedule for an IPA study

The study explores the psychological impact of chronic back pain through in-depth personal accounts of sufferers and the manner in which their sense of self unfolded and developed as their pain progressed.

Imagine a novice IPA researcher constructing an interview schedule for the fi rst time asking for your help in redrafting and refi ning the interview questions.

A. Write down what you think is wrong with each of the questions in the schedule below. 1. Was it a shock when the pain started? 2. So you have been having this pain for fi ve years then. Do you think it is

going to get better or not? What do you hope will make it better? 3. What is the most frightening thing about being in pain? 4. Do you get angry when you are in pain? 5. Living with chronic pain must be very tough. Do you describe yourself

as a tough person? 6. I can imagine the pain is demoralising – is that right?

B. How would you improve these questions? Draft alternative questions and add additional questions suitable for the study.

C. What would be a suitable sample to interview (characteristics, how many participants)?

To compare your answers with the interview schedule and the sample actually used in the study, see Smith, J. & Osborn, M. (2007) Pain as an assault on the self: an interpretative phenomenological analysis of the psychological impact of chronic benign low back pain. Psychology & Health, 22(5), 517–534.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 66 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 57

Initial stage

The initial stage consists of reading the whole transcript a number of times to become thoroughly familiar with the data. It is useful to record some observations and refl ections about the interview experience, as well as any other thoughts and comments of potential signifi cance, in a separate refl exive notebook. This is accompanied by a detailed textual analysis that starts with writing notes and comments on the transcript. The process of engaging with the transcript in close analysis involves focusing on content, use of language, context and interpretative

Interview: initial comments (extract)

Exploratory comments Original transcript

Issues from the past – upheaval of life as lived at present

Not being able to work and going into rehab which was very dif fi cult and having to go back into my past so it’s been a huge upheaval of every thing you know, you know like the hornet’s nest

Using metaphor – indirectly pointing to problematic experience underneath image of conventional ordinary life

Dysfunctional childhood family – father alcoholic

Intense relations with mother and sister, female bond, no male

‘Penetrate’ – man as hostile, aggressive sexual image, yet feeling of loss

Repeated pattern of dysfunctional relationship with men – attributes to childhood experience of father

Drinking as means of dealing with painful feelings

Initial positive experience of drinking (more confi dent)

[ ] P: What was in your hornet’s nest? C: Erm, what was in there quite a lot really I mean, as I said nothing major, nothing major has ever happened to me in the sense of the conventional kind of stuff, you think it was because I was abused, it was because, that didn’t happen, but you know my childhood wasn’t as functional as I thought you know I had a very, yeah my dad was an alcoholic but I didn’t really see him as one because he was a functional and sociable one you know, good job it was all of that kind of thing he wasn’t there a lot so my home life was kind of like that and then he lef t erm so it was just me and my mum and my sister so it’s been very much like that ever since it’s always been the three of us so it’s always been this very intense thing that no men can never penetrate us three do you know what I mean, we’ve always been very close like that and I suppose I fi nd it quite hard to trust people you know, a sense of loss I suppose as well and the way I got over that was to have a drink it made me more confi dent well I thought I did it made me ease in erm, you know disastrous relationship with men all my life you know there’s always been like my father

Ex am

pl e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 67 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

58 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

comments arising from the engagement with the material. Other notes include initial interpretative comments and refl ections. This process is illustrated in the example box above, which contains a short extract from an interview with Claire (name changed).

Second stage

The next stage involves returning to the transcript to transform the initial notes into emerging themes. The main task involves an attempt to formulate concise phrases that contain enough particularity to remain grounded in the text and enough abstraction to offer a conceptual understanding. Although still focusing on the immediate text, at this stage the scope broadens as the researcher will also be infl uenced by having already analysed the transcript as a whole. The example box below represents the emergent themes for the extract from the interview.

Developing emergent themes (extract)

Original transcript Emerging themes

Not being able to work and going into rehab which was very dif fi cult and having to go back into my past so it’s been a huge upheaval of every thing you know, you know like the hornet’s nest

Facing the past – upheaval

[ ] Dealing with painful emotions P: What was in your hornet’s nest? C: Erm, what was in there quite a lot really I mean, as I said nothing major, nothing major has ever happened to me in the sense of the conventional kind of stuff, you think it was because I was abused, it was because, that didn’t happen, but you know my childhood wasn’t as functional as I thought you know I had a very, yeah my dad was an alcoholic but I didn’t really see him as one because he was a functional and sociable one you know, good job it was all of that kind of thing he wasn’t there a lot so my home life was kind of like that and then he lef t erm so it was just me and my mum and my sister so it’s been very much like that ever since it’s always been the three of us so it’s always been this very intense thing that no men can never penetrate us three do you know what I mean, we’ve always been very close like that and I suppose I fi nd it quite hard to trust people you know, a sense of loss I suppose as well and the way I got over that was to have a drink it made me more confi dent well I thought I did it made me ease in erm, you know disastrous relationship with men all my life you know there’s always been like my father

Dysfunctional childhood family

Alcohol in childhood family

Intense bond with mother and sister

Loss

Drinking as means of dealing with painful feelings

Drinking as support

Dysfunctional adult relations with men

Ex am

pl e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 68 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 59

Third stage

The next stage consists of examining the emerging themes and clustering them together according to conceptual similarities. The task at this stage is to look for patterns in the emerging themes and produce a structure that will be helpful in highlighting converging ideas. The clusters are given a descriptive label that conveys the conceptual nature of the themes in each cluster (see the example box below).

Initial clustering of themes (extract)

Focus on addiction Relationships with others Focus on recovery

Intensity of engagement in addictive behaviours

Dysfunctional family dynamics

Recovery as arduous experience

Harmful experience of being drunk

Dysfunctional adult relationships

Feeling safe

Drinking as means of dealing with painful feelings

Obsessive pat terns of relationships

Self-awareness

Drinking as support Social isolation Support from others

Ex am

pl e

Final stage

In the fi nal stage a table of themes is produced. The table shows the structure of major themes and sub-themes. An illustrative data extract or quote is presented alongside each theme, followed by the line number, so that it is possible to check the context of the extract in the transcript. As Eatough and Smith (2006) write:

for the researcher, this table is the outcome of an iterative process in which she/ he has moved back and forth between the various analytic stages ensuring that the integrity of what the participant said has been preserved as far as possible. If the researcher has been successful, then it should be possible for someone else to track the analytic journey from the raw data through to the end table. (2006: 120)

Moving on

The next step in projects involving more than one participant consists of moving to the next case and repeating the process for each participant. Inevitably the analysis of the fi rst case will infl uence further analysis. However, in keeping with IPA’s idiographic commitment, it is important to consider each case on its own terms, trying to ‘bracket’ the ideas and concepts that emerged from the fi rst case. In following the steps rigorously for each case separately, it is important to keep an open mind to allow new themes to emerge from each case. As the analysis of subsequent transcripts continues, earlier transcripts are reviewed, and instances from earlier transcripts added and included in the ongoing analysis.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 69 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

60 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Once all transcripts have been analysed and a table of themes has been constructed for each, a fi nal table of themes is constructed for the study as a whole (see the example box below). In the process of constructing the fi nal table, the tables of themes for each participant are reviewed and, if necessary, amended and checked again with the transcript. The process is iterative and requires repeated returns to the data to check meanings. In constructing the fi nal table of themes it may be possible to amalgamate some themes or to prioritise and reduce the data included in the individual tables. In selecting themes it is important to take into account prevalence of data but also the richness of the extracts and their capacity to highlight the themes and enrich the account as a whole.

Table of themes (part)

Superordinate theme 1 – focus on addiction Addiction as an affl iction Katherine: Addiction is like you have this big boil here and it’s like full of poison 682 Tracey: I am on the fl oor, pissed and throwing up and crying 178–9 Susie: the paranoia and the fear every time I woke up without knowing where I’ve been 284–5 Meera: Just normal everyday things like bathing, like cooking, didn’t bother to eat properly 218–19 Claire: This feeling of complete despair [ ] if I could kill myself 291–2

Intensity of engagement in addictive behaviours Claire: I can’t stop until there’s nothing left or until I pass out [ ] continue, continue, continue 131–2 Meera: Was all all consuming as well, the alcohol consume me 44 Susie: I walked around with a bottle of vodka everywhere I went, I couldn’t survive 259 Tracey: All I wanted was cocaine, I didn’t give a shit about friends or anything 263 Katherine: I still force it into my body, my body tried to tell me no but I still do it 33–4

Addiction as support Susie: My fi rst, my only love which was drugs and alcohol 241 Meera: I drink alcohol sometimes to enhance whatever I am feeling 568–9 Julia: I didn’t feel safe to face it sober, I mean it is also crutches 199

Ex am

pl e

* The number in the right column indicate line number in the transcript

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 70 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 61

The table of themes provides the basis for writing up a narrative account of the project. The narrative account consists of the interplay between the participants’ account and the interpretative activity of the researcher. It is sensible to take the superordinate themes one by one and write them up in that order. The writing style refl ects the IPA approach to analysis, beginning with a close reading grounded in participants’ accounts before moving towards a more interpretative level. The narrative account should aim to be persuasive and to mix extracts from participants’ own words with interpretative comments (see the example box below). In this way it is possible to retain some of the ‘voice’ of the participant and at the same time to enable the reader to assess the pertinence of the interpretations.

Claire: The way I got over that was to have a drink, it made me more confi dent 70–1

Superordinate theme 2 – focus on self Perception of self Claire: I’d always kind of hit myself down for it like this isn’t good enough 590–1 Susie: Felt I’m not good enough ’cause I always compared myself to other people 304 Katherine: I never really liked myself in my life I was never good enough 495 Tracey: Thoughts like oh I’m worthless or no one cares about me 537 Katherine: I value myself I didn’t before but now [in recovery] I do 758 Susie: I’ve discovered [in recovery] there are good things about me which I never saw 127–8

Narrative account (extract)

The engagement with addiction was portrayed metaphorically as the deep attachment evoked by love and friendship: ‘My fi rst, my only love which was drugs and alcohol’ (Susie), ‘you’ve got a bottle of wine and that’s your best friend’ (Tracey). Embracing the love object, all other attachments are abandoned, as described by Claire (‘my relationship ended, my friends disappeared’) and Tracey:

All I wanted was cocaine, I didn’t give a shit about friends or or anything like that if you do, if you weren’t a cocaine user than you’re no use to me, d’you know what I mean, so I have lost a lot of friends because ahm of the cocaine and stuff like that.

Ex am

pl e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 71 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

62 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

All participants described an all-consuming intense and obsessive experience, overshadowing all else in life. Yet the insatiable hankering turns out to devour the self and presents a being reduced to its one desire:

Meera: I couldn’t answer the front door without having a drink, answer the telephone without having a drink, ahm I I didn’t want to see anybody so it was very much ahm it was just me and ah whatever I was drinking was all was all important, was all all consuming as well, the alcohol consumes me.

Claire: I can’t stop until there’s nothing left or until I pass out [ ] continue, continue, continue and just mentally obsessed that I need more when am I gonna get more.

Katherine: All my life it’s either been slimming pills, uppers, downers, I was very hooked on pain killers, codeine erm, for many years, in fact anything I touch I become addicted to actually.

Katherine’s account highlights the transferable pattern of addictive behaviour. Like Katherine, other participants described a range of addictive behaviours. Julia, Claire and Katherine described problems of addictive behaviour with food. Susie, Julia and Claire were engaged with obsessive exercising, swimming and running. Susie, Julia and Claire also described themselves as perfectionists, having to do everything to the best. Engaging in addictive behaviours seems to offer participants a strategy to escape from facing negative feelings towards themselves:

Susie: I didn’t realise that the level of self-loathing, I don’t allow myself um to look at that self-loathing because I drank alcohol or picked drugs to fi x that [ ] that’s part of why I drank because I didn’t like who I was.

Katherine: Everything in my life is to do with escape you know the drinking the drugs whatever I mean the sleeping around it’s you know, all being because I couldn’t be with who I am just everything is a bad escape.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 72 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Methods: how to do IPA 63

Presenting the research

The fi nal report starts with an introduction that describes what the project is about and outlines the rationale for the project. The introduction also explains the rationale for using IPA and describes the stages in the process. Following the introduction, in IPA studies the ‘literature review’ is quite short as the primary research questions are phenomenological and the process is inductive rather than theory-driven. The literature is used concisely to develop some picture of the current state of research in the specifi c area. The literature review is useful to identify gaps in the fi eld that the study aims to address, outline some existing key contributions and offer an argument why the study makes a contribution to the fi eld. It is recognised that during the analysis issues may arise that were not anticipated at the outset. These will be picked up at a later stage by engaging with literature in the ‘Discussion’ section.

In a typical IPA study the next section provides a step-by-step guide to the actual method used in the research, including details of participants, data collection method and the process of analysis. This is followed by presentation of the analysis in narrative form which includes detailed extracts from participants’ accounts (see the example box on pages 61–62). In the fi nal section, the discussion shifts the focus towards a wider context of a dialogue with existing literature, complementing, illuminating or problematising other perspectives in the literature. The reader is then able to engage in the process of considering the study in relation to their professional and personal experience as well as the relevant literature. The discussion and conclusion may point towards applications in practice and provide suggestions for further research.

I was attracted to IPA through the commonality with my background in existential psychotherapy, which is grounded in a phenomenological approach and encourages clients to explore their own experiences, interpretations and meanings in the context of their life. In my research work I have always enjoyed the process of thematic analysis and clustering concepts and ideas according to conceptual similarities. For me the added excitement in working with IPA was twofold. First, retaining the idiographic perspective, giving voice to the experiential accounts of the participants and at the same time exploring commona- lities across cases. The possibilities for developing multiple levels of interpretation offered another attraction. Using IPA enabled me to develop a more holistic concept of the research process from a perspective congruent with my worldview. It enables me to combine ideas of phenomenological and existential philosophy with a fl exible analytic approach that is focused on both subjective experience and interpretative possibilities.

R efl

e ct

io n o

n P

ra ct

ic e

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 73 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

64 Chapter 3 Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Chapter summary

■ Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) is an approach to qualitative research concerned with exploring in detail personal lived experience, and examining how people are making sense of their personal and social world.

■ IPA considers that understanding is always mediated by the context of cultural and socio-historical meanings, and therefore the process of making sense of experience is inevitably interpretative.

■ IPA considers that the role of the researcher in trying to make sense of the participant’s account is complicated by the researcher’s own conceptions.

■ IPA shares some common ground with other qualitative approaches. It can be located at a centre-ground position between experiential and discursive approaches.

■ IPA draws on concepts and debates from three key areas of philosophy of knowledge – phenomenology, hermeneutics and idiography – to inform its distinctive epistemological framework and research methodology.

■ Research questions in an IPA study are likely to involve experiences and issues of considerable signifi cance to the participant.

■ In line with its idiographic focus, IPA encourages the study of small, relatively homogenous samples.

■ IPA makes a strong case for a single case study, justifi ed when one has a particularly rich or compelling case.

■ IPA requires a data collection method that will invite participants to offer detailed, fi rst-person accounts of experiences. Semi-structured, one-to-one interviews have been used most often.

■ IPA provides step-by-step guidelines for conducting a study. The guidelines constitute a fl exible framework of processes and strategies that can be adapted in accordance with the aims of the research.

■ Analysis in IPA is an iterative, complex and creative process that requires the researcher’s refl ective engagement in a dialogue with a participant’s narrative and meanings.

■ The fi nal narrative refl ects the IPA approach to analysis, beginning with a close reading grounded in participants’ accounts before moving towards a more interpretative level.

Further reading

Eatough, V. & Smith, J.A. (2008) Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In Willig, C. & Stainton-Rogers, W. (eds) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research in Psychology (pp. 179–194). London: Sage.

This chapter discusses the theoretical foundations of IPA and considers a range of current issues.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 74 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

 

 

Further reading 65

Smith, J.A. (1996) Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology. Psychology and Health, 11, 261–71.

This paper provides a summary of the theoretical basis for IPA.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2009) Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method, and Research. London: Sage.

This book is the most comprehensive and up-to-date guide to IPA. The book covers the theoretical foundations for IPA, detailed step-by-step guidelines to conducting IPA research and extended work examples from several areas.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Osborn, M. (1997) Interpretative phenomenological analysis and health psychology. In Yardley, L. (ed.) Material Discourses and Health (pp. 68–91). London: Routledge.

This chapter illustrates IPA applied to three different areas in the psychology of health.

qualitative research methods – final.pdf 75 14/06/2011 14:07

Frost, N. (2011). Ebook : Qualitative research methods in psychology: combining core approaches. ProQuest Ebook Central <a onclick=window.open(‘http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’,’_blank’) href=’http://ebookcentral.proquest.com’ target=’_blank’ style=’cursor: pointer;’>http://ebookcentral.proquest.com</a> Created from ashford-ebooks on 2021-08-19 17:28:23.

C o p yr

ig h t ©

2 0 1 1 . M

cG ra

w -H

ill E

d u ca

tio n . A

ll ri g h ts

r e se

rv e d .

Open chat