Capturing the complexity of the experience of chronic illness over time presents significant methodological and ethical challenges. In this article, we present methodological and substantive insights from a longitudinal qualitative study with 20 people living with HIV in Serbia. We used both repeated in-depth interviews and audio diaries to explore the role of hope in coping with and managing HIV. Using thematic longitudinal analysis, we found that the audio diaries produced distinctive, embodied accounts that straddled the public/private divide and engaged with alternative social scripts of illness experience. We suggest that this enabled less socially anticipated accounts of coping, hoping, and distress to be spoken and shared. We argue that examining the influence of different methods on accounting not only illustrates the value of qualitative mixed-method study designs but also provides crucial insights to better understand the lived experience of chronic illness.
Keywords: Europe, Eastern; HIV / AIDS; diaries / journals; interviews; longitudinal studies.