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Abstract

Health practitioners who have already undertaken a considerable amount of interviewing would consider themselves as experienced interviewers, but there are questions and issues arising from research interviews which are different from assessment and interventionist interviews. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of the health professional researcher in qualitative research with older people and to make recommendations for preparatory interviewing in methodology courses. Method: A descriptive approach was used and semi-structured interviews with a sample size of eleven New Zealand health professionals/researchers. Results: A significant theme emerging was relationships. This was further divided into three categories: establishing rapport and credibility as a researcher, developing the relationship (including managing role changes), and storytelling as a strategy to integrate the participant’s personal context with the researcher’s questions. Conclusions: The results suggest that the communication between the researcher and participant is different from that of a health interview and requires a change in perspective. While it can be time consuming and frustrating to listen to long stories about personal experiences, such story telling leads the way to establishing mutual respect. Additionally, relevant information is often woven into the fabric of these stories. A major implication is that awareness of active listening should be taught in methods courses to allow researchers to reflect on the interviews.

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