Unsolicited written narratives as a methodological genre in terminal illness: challenges and limitations

O'Brien, M.R. and Clark, D. (2012) Unsolicited written narratives as a methodological genre in terminal illness: challenges and limitations. Qualitative Health Research, 22(2), pp. 274-284. (doi:10.1177/1049732311420737)

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Stories about illness have proven invaluable in helping health professionals understand illness experiences. Such narratives have traditionally been solicited by researchers through interviews and the collection of personal writings, including diaries. These approaches are, however, researcher driven; the impetus for the creation of the story comes from the researcher and not the narrator. In recent years there has been exponential growth in illness narratives created by individuals, of their own volition, and made available for others to read in print or as Internet accounts. We sought to determine whether it was possible to identify such material for use as research data to explore the subject of living with the terminal illness amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/motor neuron disease—the contention being that these accounts are narrator driven and therefore focus on issues of greatest importance to the affected person. We encountered and sought to overcome a number of methodological and ethical challenges, which is our focus here.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Clark, Professor David
Authors: O'Brien, M.R., and Clark, D.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Interdisciplinary Studies
Journal Name:Qualitative Health Research
ISSN (Online):1552-7557
Published Online:29 August 2011
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2012 SAGE
First Published:First published in Qualitative Health Research 22(2):274-284
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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