Establishing rigour in qualitative research: the decision trail


  • Tina Koch PhD RN CHC BA FRCNA

    1. Senior Lecturer in Nursing, School of Nursing, Flinders University of South Australia, GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, Australia
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The aim of this paper is to show the way in which the decision trail of a qualitative research process can be maintained. It is argued that the trustworthiness (rigour) of a study may be established if the reader is able to audit the events, influences and actions of the researcher. The actual study containing the recording of this decision trail aimed to express the concerns of older patients who were admitted to the acute care sector. The study took place in two care of the elderly wards in a 1000-bed National Health Service hospital in the UK, in 1991. Eventually, 14 patients were interviewed, each on several occasions, and their concerns are expressed in themes, namely: routine geriatric style of care, depersonalization, care deprivation and geriatric segregation. I describe the preparations that were undertaken before patient interviews could commence. The literature recording the process of the interviewer's experience as data in qualitative research is scarce. I show the researcher's participation in making the data as part of an existential phenomenological research process. Existential phenomenology relies on recording influences while generating data such as significant literature, media reports, my value position - and journal data.