Involving service users in the qualitative analysis of patient narratives to support healthcare quality improvement.
Locock L., Kirkpatrick S., Brading L., Sturmey G., Cornwell J., Churchill N., Robert G.
Plain English summary: Patient or user involvement in health research is well-established but is often limited to advising on research questions and design, leaving researchers to collect and analyse 'data' (which in this paper means written copies of interviews with patients about their experiences). We were working with sets of interviews with 1) young people with depression and 2) people with experiences of stroke. We were looking for key themes that it would be useful for the NHS to know about, and we developed short films which healthcare staff can use to think about how to make care more patient-centred. We wanted to see what user involvement in this analysis would bring, and how best to achieve it practically.After the researcher team had analysed the interviews, we ran two one-day workshops with people with relevant experience as a patient/service user or carer. We gave them some brief training in how to analyse interviews and how they might be used for improving the quality of care. Then we looked at extracts from the interviews, and discussed whether people could see the same themes as the researcher.People identified similar themes to the researcher, but also identified new details the researcher had missed. However, they felt reading large amounts of text was not the best way to use their time and experience. Instead they recommended that a better approach would be for a researcher to meet with a group of users at the start of analysis, to discuss what to look out for. Abstract: Background Patient or user involvement in health research is a well-established principle. However, involvement is often limited to advising on research questions and design, leaving researchers to complete data collection and analysis. Involvement in data analysis is one of the most challenging, least well-explored aspects of involvement. Qualitative interview data forms high volumes of rich, complex material which can be daunting to work with.Analysing narrative interviews with patients is central to a patient-centred quality improvement method called experience-based co-design. The analysis identifies 'touchpoints' - key moments of healthcare experiences - and leads to the production of a 'trigger film' to spark codesign discussions between patients and staff. We wanted to see what user involvement in this analysis would bring, and how best to achieve it. Methods As part of a wider secondary analysis study to create new trigger films, we re-analysed interview transcripts on experiences of young people with depression and experiences of stroke. We then ran two workshops with people with relevant lived experience, working with extracts from the same materials after brief training. Results People involved in the workshops identified similar themes to the researcher, but also brought some new insights. While they engaged easily with the materials selected, we under-estimated how much time it would take people to work through these. Discussion and sharing experiences and perspectives were highly valued in the first workshop. In the second workshop, we therefore started with group discussion, based on people's own experience, of what they thought the touchpoints would be, and later viewed a draft trigger film together to see how it compared. Conclusions Those involved felt that while analysing transcripts was possible in small quantities, it was not best use of their time. We suggest that conversation, rather than data, is at the heart of user involvement in analysis. One way to retain the value of lived experience in the analytic process, without over-burdening people with data, is to elicit user reflections on their experience at the start of analysis, and use this as a guide to direct both researcher and service user attention during the remainder of the process.