Conducting qualitative research in the context of pre-existing peer and collegial relationships
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Conducting qualitative research in the context of pre-existing peer and collegial relationships

Fiona McDermid PhD candidate, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
Kath Peters Associate professor, School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Western Sydney, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
Debra Jackson Professor of nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
John Daly Dean, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Aim To highlight issues and challenges faced in recruitment and interviewing during a study that sought to explore the transition of nurses into academic life and the associated ethical implications.

Background This paper explores the challenges faced in conducting research where the potential participants are peers and workplace colleagues. There are advantages when conducting research with those among whom a pre-existing relationship is shared. However, difficulties can also arise.

Review methods A methodological review was undertaken. Key database searches included CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar using the keywords as search terms. Studies were included if they described in detail issues surrounding qualitative interviewing of peers and colleagues.

Discussion Management of the issues involved is discussed, with emphasis on boundaries, trust and rapport, the use of self-disclosure and maintaining confidentiality.

Conclusion Research involving peers and colleagues has received relatively little consideration in the literature. There are difficulties associated with interviewing participants with whom the researcher has a pre-existing and ongoing relationship in the same organisation. To ensure ethical conduct, strategies can be used to mitigate negative situations such as issues surrounding dual roles, practising reflexivity, trust and rapport, self-disclosure and confidentiality.

Implications for research/practice It is imperative that dual roles are declared and acknowledged. Researchers need to be mindful of the difficulties that may occur and prioritise participants’ confidentiality and privacy.

Nurse Researcher. 21, 5, 28-33. doi: 10.7748/nr.21.5.28.e1232

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Received: 10 March 2013

Accepted: 04 September 2013

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