Conducting in-depth interviews with clinical populations often poses a number of problems for qualitative researchers. Because of the skewed perception of themselves and the world around them, and because of their propensity to distort and deny the pathology of their illness, anorexic women are an example of one such group that can create possible problems for researchers, particularly those concerned with the trustworthiness and credibility of their analysis. How should qualitative researchers approach this population? How can a credible reconstruction of reality be produced? This paper explores and discusses the procedures utilized by the authors during an 18-month project in which semi-structured, ethnographic interviews were conducted with 28 outpatients at an eating disorder treatment facility. This paper describes the methods employed by the authors to enhance the epistemological authority and trustworthiness of the analysis. These included: 1) a multi-disciplinary team approach with researchers and consultants from mass communication, family science, and clinical psychology, 2) weekly researcher team debriefing sessions to analyze and interpret recently completed interviews, 3) the exchange of thoughts and ideas from researcher diaries, journals, and coding memos, 4) the use of recovered anorexic patients as research assistants to help in the interpretation of interviews and to perform "member checks," and 5) periodic debriefing sessions with therapists at the center where the project's informants were being treated.


qualitative research

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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