The quality of data that is collected during an interview depends to a large extent upon the skills and expertise of the interviewer who functions as the control factor that determines how much at ease the respondents are and how valid is the quality of their response. In order to reliably analyze the data, Appleton describes how she sifted through the data and abstracted it in order to draw out the salient points that had emerged from the vast amounts of data that were collected, using a three-stage data analysis method identified by Miles and Huberman (1984) – data reduction, data display and data drawing.
She categorized the interview responses into subheadings, which were then collated with the responses slotted into the appropriate categories. This enabled later pooling of data followed by comparison with the data collected from the questionnaires in order to arrive at the results that she obtained. Through this process of analysis, Appleton was able to distill six basic themes prevailing in all the data: (a) Vulnerability – the ambiguous term, (b) vulnerability – a complex mix of factors (c) The continuum of vulnerability (d) professional judgments vs official guidelines (e) the health visitor-Information coordinator and (f) Role diversity and conflict.
Appleton identifies four critical parameters that determine the validity of the results. (a) truth value (b) applicability (c) consistency and (d) Neutrality The truth value of a research study pertains to how closely it mirrors actual fact, and Sandelowski (1986) states that a research instrument may be said to be valid when there is a level of confidence imbued in the study that it does in fact measure what it sets out to measure.
The credibility of a research study will, therefore, be determined by how accurately it describes peoples’ experiences and how closely people who have indeed been through that experience would identify with the results.
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