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Meta-ethnography 25 years on: challenges and insights for synthesising a large number of qualitative studies.

Toye F, Seers K, Allcock N, Briggs M, Carr E, Barker K - BMC Med Res Methodol (2014)

Bottom Line: Noblit and Hare propose seven stages of meta-ethnography which take the researcher from formulating a research idea to expressing the findings.These stages are not discrete but form part of an iterative research process.These challenges hinge upon epistemological and practical issues to be considered alongside expectations about what determines high quality research.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK. Francine.toye@ouh.nhs.uk.

ABSTRACT
Studies that systematically search for and synthesise qualitative research are becoming more evident in health care, and they can make an important contribution to patient care. Our team was funded to complete a meta-ethnography of patients' experience of chronic musculoskeletal pain. It has been 25 years since Noblit and Hare published their core text on meta-ethnography, and the current health research environment brings additional challenges to researchers aiming to synthesise qualitative research. Noblit and Hare propose seven stages of meta-ethnography which take the researcher from formulating a research idea to expressing the findings. These stages are not discrete but form part of an iterative research process. We aimed to build on the methods of Noblit and Hare and explore the challenges of including a large number of qualitative studies into a qualitative systematic review. These challenges hinge upon epistemological and practical issues to be considered alongside expectations about what determines high quality research. This paper describes our method and explores these challenges. Central to our method was the process of collaborative interpretation of concepts and the decision to exclude original material where we could not decipher a concept. We use excerpts from our research team's reflexive statements to illustrate the development of our methods.

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Analysis. Figure 2 illustrates the process of analysis from[1] 77 original studies,[2] team members’ interpretation of the concepts from the original studies,[3] developing collaborative interpretations of 450 concepts (the raw data),[4] developing conceptual categories through constant comparison and[5] developing a line of argument to explain the conceptual categories.
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Figure 2: Analysis. Figure 2 illustrates the process of analysis from[1] 77 original studies,[2] team members’ interpretation of the concepts from the original studies,[3] developing collaborative interpretations of 450 concepts (the raw data),[4] developing conceptual categories through constant comparison and[5] developing a line of argument to explain the conceptual categories.

Mentions: A fundamental issue with deciphering second-order constructs is that readers interpret concepts in light of their own experience. Thus different readers may suggest different interpretations. Thus a meaningful idea for one researcher may be only description for another. The reader makes a personal judgment about whether there is a relevant concept, and how to describe it. The unique methodological variance of our approach was to take a collaborative approach to interpreting second order constructs, in order to challenge our individual interpretations. In this way we were confident that our interpretations remained grounded in the original studies. In short, the interpretation of all 450 concepts entering the analysis was negotiated and constructed collaboratively. Figure 2 illustrates the process of collaborative interpretation of concepts and organisation into conceptual categories.


Meta-ethnography 25 years on: challenges and insights for synthesising a large number of qualitative studies.

Toye F, Seers K, Allcock N, Briggs M, Carr E, Barker K - BMC Med Res Methodol (2014)

Analysis. Figure 2 illustrates the process of analysis from[1] 77 original studies,[2] team members’ interpretation of the concepts from the original studies,[3] developing collaborative interpretations of 450 concepts (the raw data),[4] developing conceptual categories through constant comparison and[5] developing a line of argument to explain the conceptual categories.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4127190&req=5

Figure 2: Analysis. Figure 2 illustrates the process of analysis from[1] 77 original studies,[2] team members’ interpretation of the concepts from the original studies,[3] developing collaborative interpretations of 450 concepts (the raw data),[4] developing conceptual categories through constant comparison and[5] developing a line of argument to explain the conceptual categories.
Mentions: A fundamental issue with deciphering second-order constructs is that readers interpret concepts in light of their own experience. Thus different readers may suggest different interpretations. Thus a meaningful idea for one researcher may be only description for another. The reader makes a personal judgment about whether there is a relevant concept, and how to describe it. The unique methodological variance of our approach was to take a collaborative approach to interpreting second order constructs, in order to challenge our individual interpretations. In this way we were confident that our interpretations remained grounded in the original studies. In short, the interpretation of all 450 concepts entering the analysis was negotiated and constructed collaboratively. Figure 2 illustrates the process of collaborative interpretation of concepts and organisation into conceptual categories.

Bottom Line: Noblit and Hare propose seven stages of meta-ethnography which take the researcher from formulating a research idea to expressing the findings.These stages are not discrete but form part of an iterative research process.These challenges hinge upon epistemological and practical issues to be considered alongside expectations about what determines high quality research.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, Oxford, UK. Francine.toye@ouh.nhs.uk.

ABSTRACT
Studies that systematically search for and synthesise qualitative research are becoming more evident in health care, and they can make an important contribution to patient care. Our team was funded to complete a meta-ethnography of patients' experience of chronic musculoskeletal pain. It has been 25 years since Noblit and Hare published their core text on meta-ethnography, and the current health research environment brings additional challenges to researchers aiming to synthesise qualitative research. Noblit and Hare propose seven stages of meta-ethnography which take the researcher from formulating a research idea to expressing the findings. These stages are not discrete but form part of an iterative research process. We aimed to build on the methods of Noblit and Hare and explore the challenges of including a large number of qualitative studies into a qualitative systematic review. These challenges hinge upon epistemological and practical issues to be considered alongside expectations about what determines high quality research. This paper describes our method and explores these challenges. Central to our method was the process of collaborative interpretation of concepts and the decision to exclude original material where we could not decipher a concept. We use excerpts from our research team's reflexive statements to illustrate the development of our methods.

Show MeSH