The telephone interview is an effective method of data collection in clinical nursing research: a discussion paper

Int J Nurs Stud. 2007 Aug;44(6):1064-70. doi: 10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2006.05.014. Epub 2006 Jul 17.


There are varying points of view regarding the advisability and utility of using the telephone to conduct research interviews. When undertaking the Women's Recovery from Sternotomy Study, we found the telephone was an effective mechanism for data collection. Our aim is to identify the advantages and challenges of using the telephone as a mechanism for data collection in clinical nursing research. The potential benefits associated with using telephone interviews as a mechanism of data collection include (a) using economic and human resources efficiently, (b) minimizing disadvantages associated with in-person interviewing, (c) developing positive relationships between researchers and participants, and (d) improving quality of data collection. The potential challenges to telephone interviewing include (a) maintaining participant involvement, (b) maintaining clear communication, (c) communicating with participants who offer extraneous information, (d) encountering participants with health concerns, and (e) communicating with a third party. Telephone interviewing can be an effective method of data collection when interviewers understand the potential benefits as well as challenges. We offer solutions to the identified challenges and make pragmatic recommendations to enhance researcher success based on the current literature and our research practice. Supportive training for interviewers, effective communication between interviewers and with research participants, and standardized telephone follow-up procedures are needed to ensure successful telephone data collection. We have found our 'Manual of Operations' to be an effective tool that assists research assistants to meet the requirements for successful telephone interviewing.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Cardiac Surgical Procedures / rehabilitation
  • Clinical Nursing Research* / economics
  • Clinical Nursing Research* / methods
  • Communication
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Manuals as Topic
  • Telephone*