Challenges and reflections from an international, humanitarian, short-term surgical mission on collecting ethnographic data in a remote environment
evidence and practice    

Challenges and reflections from an international, humanitarian, short-term surgical mission on collecting ethnographic data in a remote environment

Sonja Dawson PhD candidate, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
Debra Jackson Professor of nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Technology, Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
Doug Elliott Professor of nursing, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia

Background The experiences of nurses participating in ethnographic fieldwork have been well documented, but often feature short-term, intermittent periods in the field of less than a day.

Aim To provide an overview of methodological issues related to collecting data while undertaking a focused ethnography of nurses volunteering with a humanitarian organisation providing surgical care in a remote setting.

Discussion Particular challenges during the fieldwork included limited space and privacy influencing data collection and secure storage; sporadic and unreliable communications limiting contact with other members of the research team; the challenges of withdrawing from the intensity of the setting; and navigating blurred boundaries between the roles of clinician and researcher.

Conclusion Social research in practice, despite the best of intentions and significant planning, may not always travel the expected path of rational enquiry.

Implications for practice Awareness of the challenges involved before embarking on longer term entry into remote environments may help prepare future nurse ethnographers.

Nurse Researcher. 27, 2, 21-25. doi: 10.7748/nr.2019.e1627

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software

Correspondence

sonja.dawson@avondale.edu.au

Conflict of interest

None declared

Dawson S, Jackson D, Elliott D (2019) Challenges and reflections from an international, humanitarian, short-term surgical mission on collecting ethnographic data in a remote environment. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2019.e1627