“The best teaching is taught by the patient himself”

Sir William Osler
Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford (1905-1920)

Research Methodologies

We employ well-established methods of qualitative research, in accordance with our DIPEx International Quality Control Manual. Our methods are based on the pioneering work of our UK partners, and these have been recommended by the UK’s NHS National Knowledge Service as the ‘gold standard’ for research into patient experiences. The results of our studies are published in peer-reviewed, international journals. DIPEx International has an ethical funding policy and our websites do not carry any commercial advertising.

Researchers: Our researchers are experienced in qualitative research methods, and receive accredited training in the DIPEx method. Researchers are supported by an experienced ‘buddy’ and an Expert Advisory Panel. Primary and support researchers meet regularly during data analysis to ensure data validity and methodological rigour.

Participants and Recruitment: We conduct face-to-face, semi-structured, audio- and video-recorded, narrative interviews with between 40 to 50 people, from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible, concerning their personal experiences of health and illness. With the help of an Expert Advisory Panel we recruit via health professionals, community centres, support groups, and consumer organisations. Participants are selected according to ‘maximum variation sampling’, to ensure the capture of a wide range of experiences and views.

Interviews typically take place in participants’ homes or workplaces at a time convenient for them. Participants have the option of using a pseudonym to enhance anonymity. Interviews generally last 60 – 120 minutes.

Analysis: Verbatim transcription is conducted with the audio recordings. Transcripts are returned to participants for verification. Data are organised and analysed using the constant comparative method with ongoing input from our Expert Advisory Group. The data are further explored for divergent views, to check the robustness of developing themes. Permission is sought for follow-up by telephone, to clarify aspects of the interview if needed during data analysis.

The results are used for our publically accessible websites to provide support and information for patients, their family and carers. Around 25 summaries of what’s important to those people who were interviewed are provided. These are illustrated with approximately 250 video, audio and written excerpts from the interviews.