Journal article

General considerations for conducting online qualitative research and practice implications for interviewing people with Acquired Brain Injury

Acquired brain injury Qualitative research Research methodology


Qualitative methodology is key to understanding the lived experience of people with acquired brain injury (ABI). However, as demonstrated during the global pandemic (COVID-19), face-to-face interviewing is not always viable. This lack of availability has been particularly relevant for people with disability who are at increased risk of contracting the virus and experiencing poorer outcomes. Fortunately, advancing technologies provide increasing opportunities for communicating online, thus it is plausible for qualitative disability researchers to adapt to remote interviewing. People with ABI often experience varying degrees of cognitive and communication impairments and therefore require specific considerations in the planning of research projects.

In this paper, we examine learnings from existing literature around online qualitative research, specifically for videoconference, focus groups and email-interviewing methods. The key aim is to map out the practical, ethical and methodological considerations when adapting research to an online environment. As interviewing people with ABI online has received little attention in the literature, learnings from broader disability populations and the general population inform much of the considerations. Thus, the suggestions for practice are likely to be relevant to a broader population, but specific implications for people with ABI are discussed. Overall, we propose that it is viable, and sometimes preferable, to utilize online interview techniques but researchers must take care to consider the practical, ethical and methodological implications of doing so.

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