Researcher perspectives from a study of women’s experiences of breastfeeding
Kathryn Hinsliff-Smith Research fellow, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
Rachael Spencer Assistant professor in midwifery, School of Health Sciences, the University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
Background Diaries are growing in popularity in healthcare, and are useful for obtaining a more profound understanding of participants’ experiences. However, they are not widely used by nurses and social scientists to collect data for research and few studies have used participant diaries to explore women’s experiences of breastfeeding infants.
Aim To consider the use of diaries as a qualitative healthcare research method, describe the challenges that using diaries may present for healthcare researchers and relate this to a recent study of participants’ experiences of breastfeeding.
Discussion The diaries in this study were unstructured, narrative accounts. Using solicited unstructured diaries was a valid and useful tool for capturing the phenomena of the early stages of breastfeeding. It has relevance for healthcare research interested in capturing real-life experiences. To achieve compliance, attention needs to be paid to diary management, including diary structure, format and support for participants throughout the study period.
Conclusion Research diaries are a valid and useful tool for collecting data involving complex and often sensitive healthcare issues.
Implications Research diaries are complementary to interviews, but need careful management to provide a truly unique insight into the phenomena being studied.
23, 3, 13-17.
This article has been subject to double-blind review and checked using antiplagiarism software
Conflict of interest
Received: 17 December 2014
Accepted: 18 August 2015
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