Aim To explore the methodological and ethical issues of conducting qualitative telephone interviews about personal or professional trauma with critical care nurses.
Background The most common method for conducting interviews is face-to-face. However, there is evidence to support telephone interviewing on a variety of sensitive topics including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Qualitative telephone interviews can limit emotional distress because of the comfort experienced through virtual communication. Critical care nurses are at increased risk of developing PTSD due to the cumulative exposure to work-related stress in the intensive care unit. We explored the methodological and ethical issues of conducting qualitative telephone interviews, drawing on our experiences communicating with a group of critical care nurses.
Data sources Qualitative research interviews with 27 critical care nurses. Fourteen of the nurses met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD; 13 did not and had scores consistent with high levels of resilience.
Review methods This is a methodology paper on the authors’ experiences of interviewing critical care nurses on sensitive topics via the telephone.
Discussion The authors found that establishing rapport and connections with the participants and the therapeutic use of non-verbal communication were essential, and fostered trust and compassion. The ethical issues of this mode of communication include protecting the privacy and confidentiality associated with the disclosure of sensitive information, and minimising the risk of psychological harm to the researcher and participants.
Conclusion Qualitative telephone interviews are a valuable method of collecting information on sensitive topics.
Implications for research/practice This paper explores a method of interviewing in the workplace. It will help inform interventions to promote healthy adaptation following trauma exposure in the intensive care unit.
21, 4, 32-37.
to Meredith Mealer Meredith.Mealer@ucdenver.edu
This article has been subject to double blind peer review
Conflict of interest
Correspondence to Meredith Mealer Meredith.Mealer@ucdenver.eduAuthor guidelines
Received: 26 February 2013
Accepted: 04 June 2013