Using Visual Timelines in Telephone Interviews: Reflections and Lessons Learned from the Star Family Study
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Visual timeline methods have been used as part of face-to-face qualitative interviewing with vulnerable populations to uncover the intricacies of lived experiences, but little is known about whether visual timelines can be effectively used in telephone interviews. In this article, we reflect on the process of using visual timelines in 16 telephone interviews with women as part of the ‘STarting a family when you have an Autoimmune Rheumatic disease’ study (STAR Family Study). The visual timeline method was used to empower women to organize and share their narratives about the sensitive and complex topic of starting a family. We conducted a thematic analysis of the audio-recorded interview data, using researchers’ field notes and reflections to provide context for our understanding of the benefits of using timelines, to understand the process of using visual timelines during telephone interviews. Resource packs were sent to women before study participation; 11 out of 16 women completed a version of the timeline activity. Six themes were identified in the methodological data analysis: 1) Use and adaptation of the timeline tool; 2) Timeline exchange, 3) Framing the interview: Emphasizing that women are in control; 4) Jumping straight in; 5) Taking a lead, and; 6) Disclosing personal and sensitive experiences. The use of visual timelines facilitated interviewee control and elicited rich narratives of participants’ experiences in telephone interviews. Women created their visual timelines autonomously and retained ownership of their timeline data; these features of the data generation process need to be considered when using visual timelines in telephone rather than face-to-face interviews. Use of visual methods within telephone interviews is feasible, can generate rich data, and should be further explored in a wider range of settings.
International Journal of Qualitative Methods;
Article published in International Journal of Qualitative Methods on 30 March 2020, available open access at: https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920913675.
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
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