Challenges to conducting research with older people living in nursing homes

BMC Geriatr. 2009 Aug 24;9:38. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-9-38.


Background: Although older people are increasingly cared for in nursing homes towards the end of life, there is a dearth of research exploring the views of residents. There are however, a number of challenges and methodological issues involved in doing this. The aim of this paper is to discuss some of these, along with residents' views on taking part in a study of the perceptions of dignity of older people in care homes and make recommendations for future research in these settings.

Methods: Qualitative interviews were used to obtain the views on maintaining dignity of 18 people aged 75 years and over, living in two private nursing homes in South East London. Detailed field notes on experiences of recruiting and interviewing participants were kept.

Results: Challenges included taking informed consent (completing reply slips and having a 'reasonable' understanding of their participation); finding opportunities to conduct interviews; involvement of care home staff and residents' families and trying to maintain privacy during the interviews. Most residents were positive about their participation in the study, however, five had concerns either before or during their interviews. Although 15 residents seemed to feel free to air their views, three seemed reluctant to express their opinions on their care in the home.

Conclusion: Although we experienced many challenges to conducting this study, they were not insurmountable, and once overcome, allowed this often unheard vulnerable group to express their views, with potential long-term benefits for future delivery of care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomedical Research / methods*
  • Female
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Time Factors