Qualitative Health Research in Difficult Contexts

3 June 2011 – A wonderful day! My colleague Anna Olsen – from the National Centre in HIV Epidemiology and Clinical Research, UNSW – and I coordinated a whole day workshop about conducting qualitative health research in difficult contexts. Held in Medical Foundation Building Auditorium, University of Sydney, the day was supported by The Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine (VELiM) University of Sydney, International Institute for Qualitative Methodology, University of Alberta, and the Qualitative Health Research Collaboration, University of Sydney.

Qualitative research is valued for its ability to capture the depth and complexity of social phenomena, particularly in real-world settings, addressing issues and processes that quantitative research cannot reach. As a consequence, qualitative researchers are often engaged in challenging research design and fieldwork. This workshop brings together experienced qualitative researchers to discuss the ethics, protocols, methods and relationships that influence the success of qualitative inquiry in difficult contexts. Speakers will share examples of hazards, unforseen hurdles and even unresolvable situations, as well as strategies for dealing with these in the everyday conduct of the research and the final write up.

Researching in community spaces:
Dr Martin Holt (Senior Research Fellow, National Centre in HIV Social Research, UNSW) Qualitative research with gay men: The contrast between consumer & public health perspectives on community, risk & HIV
Professor Kathleen Clapham (Australian Health Services Research Institute, UoW) Who defines ‘difficult’? Researching with Aboriginal communities
Dr Julie MacKenzie (Research Associate, School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW) Football United: Research with young refugees in high schools and Intensive English Centres

Researching in institutions:
Dr Rowena Forsyth (Research Fellow, Centre for Values, Ethics and the Law in Medicine, USyd) Ethnography in hospitals
Dr Ann Dadich (Research Lecturer, Centre for Industry and Innovation Studies (CInIS) Research Group and School of Management College of Business and Law, UWS) Tricks of the Trade in Community Mental Health Research
Dr Linda Kurti (Director of Social Policy, Urbis) Learning from organisations – evaluation and research in the workplace
Dr Juanita Sherwood (Senior Lecturer & Senior Researcher, Nura Gili Indigenous Programs, UNSW and Perinatal and Reproductive Epidemiology Research Unit, School of Women’s and Children’s Health, UNSW) The Alice Springs Grog Trial

Researching internationally:
Dr Cynthia Hunter (Senior Lecturer, School of Political and Social Sciences, and Public Health, USyd) Ethnographic work on primary health care in Indonesia
Dr Peter Higgs (NHMRC Post-doctoral Fellow, Kirby Institute, UNSW) Engagement, reciprocity and advocacy: Research with injecting drug users in Vietnam

Associate Professor Juliet Richters (School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW) Medical faculties as contexts for qualitative health research

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