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Qualitative Research Methods Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) A brief Introduction Nils Beer October 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Qualitative Research Methods Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) A brief Introduction Nils Beer October 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Qualitative Research Methods Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) A brief Introduction Nils Beer October 2011

2 Objectives After this concise introduction, and with some background reading, you should be able to: Understand the theoretical underpinnings of IPA, e.g. analytical approach, sample size, purposive sampling. Consider when to use IPA in the context of Applied Psychology (e.g. Clinical, Health or Counselling Psychology). Evaluate core IPA-based studies in Health and Counselling Psychology. Analyse a given semi-structured interview (individual case): –Produce unfocused notes –Identify and label themes –Introduce structure into the analysis of the individual case (identify cluster of themes/concepts) Todays practical Integrate cases (identify master themes) Practical next week!

3 Introduction to IPA IPA encompasses dual components: –Phenomenology: impossibility of gaining direct access to research participants life worlds Aim is to explore the participants experience/perception of the world from his or her perspective; –Interpretation: Implication of the researchers own view of the world The attempt to report on the participants experience will inevitably be distorted (biased) by the phenomenology of the researcher Reflexivity. Plus Idiographic (not nomothetic) approach!

4 Introduction to IPA – continued … Focus on lived experience of participant I.e. tries to make sense of the attributed meaning of events/experiences/states of the participants themselves. IPA attempts to preserve fully that validation of peoples perception of the world. Carl Rogers Client Centred Therapy was influenced by this view (participants perspective): However bizarre or paranoid the patients view might be, the therapist will validate this as the patients genuine current view … Naturalistic and rich thick description (qualitative methodology) Small purposive sample (5-6 interviewees)

5 Introduction to IPA – continued … Phenomenology: According to its founder E. Husserl Going back to the things themselves Reflexive turn inwards away from the objects in the world towards participants perception of those objects. In IPA we apply the idiographic phenomenology: Detailed analysis of elements of the reflective personal and subjective experience of the world.

6 Introduction to IPA – continued … Interpretative: The founder of IPA (Jonathan Smith, 1997) sees IPA as an an attempt to unravel the meanings contained in … accounts through a process of interpretative engagement with the texts and transcripts. Double hermeneutic: The researcher is trying to make sense of the participant trying to make sense of their world. This interpretative engagement is achieved and facilitated by a series of analytic steps enabling the researcher to identify themes and integrate them into clusters, first within (summary tables of thematic clusters) and then across cases (integrative table of master themes).

7 Methodology of IPA Data Collection –Purposive homogenous sampling: Recruiting participants who have experienced the phenomenon under investigation, e.g. suffering from post traumatic stress or having been bullied (Not random sampling …) –Flexible interview schedule: Semi structured interviews. Constructing an interview schedule. Analysis –Identification of themes in the fist case –Search for connections between themes (clusters) –Move across the case with the aim to establish subordinate themes –Integration of cases: Identification of master themes

8 Analytical steps in IPA (Smith, 2003) 1.Reading and rereading the (verbatim) transcript(s) several times and making descriptive notes of interesting and significant responses. This is a record of the researchers associations (an early interpretation). 2.Identification of emergent themes from the transcript and early notes. 3.Organizing the identified themes into those that cluster together and those that are at a higher level Establishment of superordinate themes (those that incorporate more primary themes). 4.Drawing a summary table comprising the cluster labels together with their subordinate theme labels (and quotations and references to where the relevant abstracts may be found in the transcript). 5.Integrating cases and presenting them in a summary table.

9 Structure of the summary table (individual case) Cluster label 1 Theme labelkeyword/brief quote page & line no. Cluster label 2 Theme labelkeyword/brief quote page & line no. Cluster label 3 Theme labelkeyword/brief quote page & line no.

10 Examples of two relevant IPA-based studies IPAs core aim: Capture rich account-lived experience of the participants … Two impressive studies: An Overwhelming Illness: Womens Experience of Learning to Live with Chronic Fatique Syndrome/ Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (Edwards, Thompson & Blair, 2007). Journal of Health Psychology, 12 (2), 203-214. Genetic Test for Huntingtons Disease: The Decision Making Process (Smith, Michie, Stephenson & Quarrell, 2002) see next slides …

11 Huntington Disease Study* Huntington Disease (HD) –Progressive, neuro-degenerative disorder, usually of adult onset (around 40 years) –Symptoms: severe motor disability, affective disturbance and cognitive impairment –No treatment! Predictive genetic testing possible since 1986 –Before testing, candidate knows risk status is 50% –Testing is almost definitive (hardly any false positives) –Unpredictability in terms of time of onset –Positive result will also change offsprings risk status from 25% to 50% *) Reference: J. Smith. School of Psychology, Birkbeck, University of London Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. What is it?

12 Huntington Disease Study – continued … The study was concerned with how does an individual make such a decision (undergoing testing or not) and what are the psychological consequences of it. Existing work (predominantly quantitative): 1.Some studies have focused on factors influencing of whether to test or not, e.g. Tibben et al. (1993) and Codori et al. (1994) –Pro testing: Planning for the future, reproductive decis. –Anti testing: being unable to life with the fact. 2.Most work is on psychological effects knowing the test result, e.g. another study by Tibben et al. (1993), Bloch et al. (1992).

13 Huntington Disease Study – continued … Smith, Michie, Stephenson & Quarells novel (2002) study approach focussing on how the individual makes the decision … For results see article (reference section) Procedure –Semi-structured interviews, early in the counsel protocol addressing: HD, the test, decision-making –Taped and transcribed verbatim –Analysed with IPA Conclusion from this study –IPA is concerned with actual instances of life and not actuarial incidence –This work is valuable as an ecological example of DM –The study potentially informs genetic counselling!

14 Some useful revision questions … 1.In which way is the IPA approach phenomological? 2.What is the inherent risk of the interpretative component? How can the researcher control for this risk? 3.What (other) measures can be applied in order to control for different biases? 4.What are core methods of data collection for IPA? 5.What are core advantages of semi-structured interview schedules (compared with structured interviews)? 6.On what grounds is IPA an ideographic rather than a nomothetic approach.

15 Analytical steps in IPA (Smith, 2003) 1.Reading and rereading the (verbatim) transcript(s) several times and making descriptive notes of interesting and significant responses. This is a record of the researchers associations (an early interpretation). 2.Identification of emergent themes from the transcript and early notes. 3.Organizing the identified themes into those that cluster together and those that are at a higher level Establishment of superordinate themes (those that incorporate more primary themes). 4.Drawing a summary table comprising the cluster labels together with their subordinate theme labels (and quotations and references to where the relevant abstracts may be found in the transcript). 5.Integrating cases and producing a table of master themes

16 Integrating cases into a table of clusters Once you have identified the emergent themes for each individual case … You have to integrate theses cases and … Present the results/findings in a table of constituent themes = master themes or clusters.

17 Constructing an Interview Schedule In your coursework assignment you are just asked to conduct an IPA for given qualitative data (three semi-structured interviews). If you intend to apply IPA for your Research Project you have to –Think about a research topic within the field of (Applied) Counselling Psychology and decide a sample –Construct an Interview Schedule Todays practical! –Conduct the interviews –Produce verbatim transcripts and then … – Analyse your data by means of IPA –Write up!

18 Suggested sequence for producing an interview schedule (Smith & Osborne, 2003) 1.After having determined the overall area to be tackled in the interview, think about the wide range of topics (phenomena) you want to cover in your semi- structured interviews. 2.Decide in the most appropriate sequence of your topics. Sensitive topics should addressed at the end of the interview after you have established rapport with your participants and they feel comfortable speaking to you. 3.Work out appropriate questions related to each area and topic in order to address the issues under investigation. 4.Think about potential prompts which could result from the answers to some of the questions.

19 Constructing Questions (Smith & Osborne, 2003) Questions should be precise and unambiguous. Questions should be neutral rather than value- laden or leading (Not: Do you agree …? / But: What do you think/feel …?) Avoid jargon or assumptions of technical proficiency. Use open – rather than closed – questions!

20 Recommended core References Smith, J.A. (1996). Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: Using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology. Psychology & Health, 11, 261-271. Smith, J.A., Michie, S., Stephenson, M. & Quarrell, O. (2002). Risk perception and decision making processes in candidates for the genetic test for Huntingtons Disease: An interpretative phenomenological analysis. Journal of Health Psychology, 7, 131-144. Smith, J.A. & Osborn, M. (2003). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. In: J.A. Smith (Ed.) Qualitative Psychology: A Practical Guide to Methods. London: Sage.


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