Tuesday 11 October 2016

Parallel-serial memoing

One of the benefits of being a philosopher at large in a college of health is unpredictable involvement with other people's ideas and research. I was very tenuously involved - though kept well away from the coal face of the research: the interviewing and data - over some weeks with one of Caroline Watkins' projects which was looking at the effects of motivational interviewing techniques on stroke survivors.

I understand that the intervention produced an improvement in mood without the obvious mechanisms that occurred to me - increasing the motivation to undertake necessary physiotherapy, for example - being in play. It seems to be an example of the kind of causal connection John Campbell discusses in psychology and psychiatry: causation without intervening mechanism.

Anyway, I have been kindly credited by Kulsum Patel with the role of 7th author in a methodological paper that resulted.

The mechanisms by which talking therapies exert their beneficial effects are largely unknown. In exploring the process of a talking therapy, motivational interviewing (MI), when used to treat and prevent low mood in stroke survivors, we developed, what we believe to be, a novel approach to analyzing transcripts. We illustrate the method using qualitative data from MI sessions with 10 stroke survivors. The approach, drawing on grounded theory, incorporated processes of parallel and serial memoing among a team of researchers to allow a process of validation. This enabled us to describe session content and to develop theoretical interpretations of what was occurring in and across MI sessions. We found that this process can be used to integrate different perspectives in theory building, allowing for a richer description and more robust theoretical interpretation. Others can use and adapt this approach to develop insights into their own inquiry.

Patel K, Auton MF, Carter B, Watkins CL, Hackett M, Leathley MJ, Thornton T, Lightbody CE. Parallel-serial memoing: A novel approach to analyzing qualitative data. Qualitative Health Research 2016, 26(13): 1745-1752.
DOI: 10.1177/1049732315614579