Qualitative interviews and focus group discussions provide participants with an opportunity to discuss their lived experiences. This is dependent upon people reporting their own behaviour, as well as reporting how others behave. Examples of reporting include: studies to understand patient and nurse interactions at a TB clinic; or studies aiming to gain insights into how men and women discussing their daily routines and time management.

Observation allows researchers to “see” people’s lives first hand. However, there are a number of advantages and disadvantages to observation, some of which are ethical.



This session provides learning on observation and how these techniques might be used in health research.

At the end of the session users should be able to:

• Discuss the main concepts and principles that relate to observation
• Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of observation as qualitative research methods


You can download the powerpoint here  and an observation training guide and SOP here.



Recommended reading:

Kielmann, K, Cataldo, F, and Seeley, J, (2011) Introduction to Qualitative Research Methodology: Chapter 6: Observation in Introduction to Qualitative Research Methodology Training Manual

Reeves, S. Kuper, A. & Hodges, B.D. (2008) Qualitative research methodologies: ethnography BMJ 2008 (337): 512-514

Bloomer, M.J., et al., Qualitative observation in a clinical setting: challenges at end of life. Nursing & health sciences, 2012. 14(1): p. 25-31.