Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using Visual Vignettes: My Learning to Date

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

Using Visual Vignettes: My Learning to Date

Article excerpt

I sought a methodology that would incorporate emotive and poignant cancer survivors' findings from a previous study phase (Morrison & Thomas, 2014) as a means to sensitively and effectively explore the perspective of other stakeholders, including physicians and industry representatives, about the same phenomena. The phenomenon under study is cancer survivors' work integration (WI). In a preliminary phase of this study, cancer survivors' experiences of WI were explored using photovoice methods. These findings were a combination of narratives and photographs. Since both the existing literature and the participant survivors point to a gap in WI support, a non-confrontational climate would be critical to ensuring a respectful and open exploration of these other qualitative stakeholder inquiries, especially since these other stakeholders are perceived as potentially holding prime roles to provide WI support.

To address this issue of sensitivity, I selected vignette methodology. Through the use of this methodology, I could use a combined representation of narratives and photographs and provide a non-threatening means to explore participants' overt and covert perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes (Hughes, 1998). Schoenberg and Ravdal (2000) have identified that researchers who use vignette methodology find that they can come to an enhanced understanding of behaviour by firstly appreciating participants' awareness, attitudes, and beliefs. Although not widely employed, vignette methodology has been effectively used across a variety of disciplines and populations, including physicians (Corbett, Foster, & Ong, 2009; Hooper et al., 2008) and other healthcare providers (Atwal, McIntyre, & Wiggett, 2012; Denson, Winefield, & Beilby, 2013) educators (Copeland, Birmingham, DeMeulle, D'Emidio-Caston, & Natal, 1994; Han, 2010), minorities (Easter et al., 2007; Hodgins, Millar, & Barry, 2006), and the general public (Cook & Wang, 2011; Hogg, 2011) including children (Barter & Renold, 2000; Dixon, Murray, & Daiches, 2012).

After providing some context for this study, I present an overview of vignette methodology including its advantages, limitations, and considerations found in the literature. Thereafter, I will present the concerns that remained for me in the use of vignette methodology and the employed resolutions. In summary, I will reflect on the learning acquired during this phase of the study and the modifications to be made before I again use vignette methodology in a similar exploration with industry representatives. My intention in preparing this manuscript is to aid other researchers who may similarly be looking for a means to sensitively explore important stakeholders' perspectives.

Context

In an effort to situate this study and the decisions made related to the vignettes, I provide some context of the current problem facing cancer survivors as it relates to their WI. In a dearth of advice from health professionals, most cancer survivors report having to independently navigate decisions regarding work (Nitkin, Parkinson, & Schultz, 2011). Among many, these decisions include whether to work through treatment or take leave as well as when and how to return to work. Stanton (2006) identified that in order to enhance survivors' work integration (WI), medical personnel need to become better informed and facilitate the necessary referrals to address cancerrelated ramifications including fatigue, cognitive limitations, and pain. While oncology-focussed rehabilitation services continue to be developed, previous authors have suggested that survivors and their naturally occurring team of physicians and employer representatives could more effectively manage WI with enhanced knowledge (Nitkin et al., 2011; Wells et al., 2013). Furthermore, by enhancing physicians' awareness of cancer patients' working realities, more patients would likely be able to work through treatment and achieve earlier and more successful WI (Wada et al. …

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