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Patient Interviews

Patients may not always be able to verbalize succinctly what their needs are/were in relation to their health crisis, but they do have critical incident stories to tell. Their needs are often hidden in their story and will become apparent as the story unfolds. It is the researcher's job to identify their needs by listening carefully to those stories.

Optimal results are achieved if the persons interviewed:

  • Have on-going or recent personal experience with the condition being studied. The longer the experience (as in the case of a person who has lived with a disease for many years), the greater will be the breadth and depth of information gathered. The more recent the experience, the greater will be the accuracy and quality of the information gathered.
  • Have the ability to "tell it like it is," and can express their feelings well.

Diversity of backgrounds and experience among those interviewed is essential for amassing an extensive list of needs. Be very intentional about this. Decide what the separate groups are and seek out the people who represent them.

As a caveat, we could like to emphasize that less articulate (and therefore often marginalized) people have as much valid information to convey. However, their input is best utilized either in nominal groups or in surveys to prioritize the needs. In the nominal group there is usually less pressure for one individual to convey great amounts of in-depth information at once.

A group setting of peers and round-robin discussions may draw them out and encourage them to share their thoughts. In surveys, they can take their time to respond to questions and write down their answers without the pressure of a face-to-face interview or group interaction.

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