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calendarRefining the research questions and defining the patient sample

Authors of this page:Dawn Clarke and Graham R. Gibbs

Affiliation: University of Huddersfield

Date written: 11th August 2008




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Frances needed to identify and locate potential participants. She did this by negotiation with GPs in her hometown. Frances chose this approach because she understood from her medical background that the GPs would always be informed about the patients’ treatment whether they attended the surgery or not (some may have only attended the A&E department in a hospital).

Frances developed criteria for identifying the potentially participating patients. First, they had all experienced whiplash. She only excluded cases where someone had died in the accident concerned. Then she had to decide how recently the person had experienced their whiplash. Obviously there had to be a limit on this for practical purposes, but she was aware of other influencing factors.

Loudspeaker iconHear how Frances explained her choices.

So there was a retrospective part and a prospective part and so the retrospective part was recruitment really I’d said patients [who had suffered a whiplash injury] within the six month period prior to the start of the study - which could be just taken off the GP's computer- because then that increases the time difference between length of time and the final interview, looking at what was taking place, so it opened up. Instead of finishing at 12 months somebody might have had 18 months or two years maybe, when you see a little bit more, I thought there might be a little bit more data there that might be of use.


Now Frances began to realise that the experience of whiplash could last some time and that the full impact of the injury might not become apparent at first. This meant she would need a longer term study. She realised that the interview schedule needed to span up to two years. This in turn affected the order in which she carried out her data analysis and ultimately the questions she asked in her final interviews.

Loudspeaker iconHear Frances on taking the longer-term view.

But, I was really concerned with the prospective [study] here because most of the studies are retrospective and most of the studies really are biomedical or bio psychosocial but again I wanted to follow through what that actual experience was, so that was really important to try and capture what was taking place from the participants’ point of view. They’ll [the patients] look at actually what is happening when they’ve got this injury, what does it mean to them, and how does it show itself, and here I’ve used the word manifest, so with those ideas they set the scene for the patients, and the recruitments of patients.

As a consequence, Frances realised it was important to talk to patients several times over a period to see how the experience of the whiplash developed.


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The resources on this site by Graham R Gibbs, Dawn Clarke, Celia Taylor, Christina Silver and Ann Lewins are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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