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Data Collection Techniques for Capturing Contextual Factors and Lived Experiences in Health Research in Conflict Settings

What are the main data collection techniques used in mixed method research in conflict settings?

In health research conducted in conflict settings, it is crucial to capture the contextual factors and lived experiences of individuals and communities. Such data provide valuable insights into the complex dynamics and social realities that influence health outcomes in these challenging environments. This article explores various data collection techniques that researchers can employ to effectively capture contextual factors and lived experiences in health research conducted in conflict-affected settings. 1. In-depth Interviews: In-depth interviews allow researchers to engage with participants individually and explore their perspectives, experiences, and perceptions related to health and the impact of conflict. These interviews provide rich qualitative data that shed light on personal narratives, coping strategies, cultural beliefs, and barriers to healthcare access. They enable researchers to capture the nuances of lived experiences and understand the contextual factors shaping health outcomes. 2. Focus Group Discussions: Focus group discussions bring together a small group of participants to engage in guided discussions on specific health-related topics. This technique facilitates the exploration of shared experiences, group dynamics, and social norms prevalent in conflict-affected communities. It enables researchers to capture diverse perspectives, identify common themes, and understand the collective impact of conflict on health and well-being. 3. Participatory Observation: Participatory observation involves researchers immersing themselves in the community and actively observing daily routines, interactions, and healthcare practices. This technique allows for a firsthand understanding of the social, cultural, and environmental contexts that influence health outcomes. By participating in community activities and observing healthcare settings, researchers can capture valuable contextual information that may not be accessible through interviews alone. 4. Photovoice: Photovoice is a participatory research method that combines photography and storytelling. Participants are provided with cameras and encouraged to capture images that represent their experiences, challenges, and strengths related to health and conflict. Through group discussions and the interpretation of the photographs, researchers gain insights into the lived experiences and perspectives of participants. Photovoice promotes community empowerment, allowing individuals to share their stories and advocate for change. 5. Document and Literature Review: Data collection in conflict settings can also involve reviewing documents, reports, and existing literature. This approach provides valuable contextual information, historical perspectives, and insights into policies and programs related to health in conflict-affected areas. By reviewing official documents, medical records, and scholarly articles, researchers can supplement primary data collection and gain a comprehensive understanding of the health landscape in the conflict setting.

Conclusion: Capturing contextual factors and lived experiences is essential in health research conducted in conflict settings. By employing diverse data collection techniques such as in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, participatory observation, photovoice, and document review, researchers can gain a comprehensive understanding of the social, cultural, and environmental factors that shape health outcomes. These techniques enable researchers to capture the lived experiences of individuals and communities, ensure community engagement, and inform interventions and policies that address the specific health challenges faced by populations living in conflict-affected areas. By embracing these techniques, researchers can generate nuanced and contextually grounded evidence that contributes to the development of effective and tailored health interventions in conflict settings.


O’Cathain, Alicia. “The Mixed Methods Research Workbook: Activities for Designing, Implementing, and Publishing Projects.” (2020): 548-549.

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Conducting Health Research in Conflict Settings: Navigating Research Challenges for Impactful Evidence

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