Is there a bias against telephone interviews in qualitative research?

Res Nurs Health. 2008 Aug;31(4):391-8. doi: 10.1002/nur.20259.


Telephone interviews are largely neglected in the qualitative research literature and, when discussed, they are often depicted as a less attractive alternative to face-to-face interviewing. The absence of visual cues via telephone is thought to result in loss of contextual and nonverbal data and to compromise rapport, probing, and interpretation of responses. Yet, telephones may allow respondents to feel relaxed and able to disclose sensitive information, and evidence is lacking that they produce lower quality data. This apparent bias against telephone interviews contrasts with a growing interest in electronic qualitative interviews. Research is needed comparing these modalities, and examining their impact on data quality and their use for studying varying topics and populations. Such studies could contribute evidence-based guidelines for optimizing interview data.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bias
  • Cues
  • Data Collection / methods*
  • Data Collection / standards
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Guidelines as Topic
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / standards*
  • Nonverbal Communication
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods*
  • Nursing Methodology Research / standards
  • Psychometrics
  • Qualitative Research*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Telephone