Ethnography: a stepwise approach for primary care researchers

Fam Med. 1996 Jan;28(1):52-6.


Ethnography is a research method borrowed from cultural anthropology and a disciplined method for understanding human conduct. It is a valid alternative to quantitative methods for primary care researchers. This article reviews the defining principles of ethnographic research, which uses principally observational methods to study actions and events that exist in natural situations. It is the job of ethnographic researchers to establish and frame their observations from the point of view of the people under observation. We present five steps fundamental to the development of an ethnographic research plan and a research case study that demonstrates the use of ethnography by a family physician.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthropology, Cultural*
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Primary Health Care*
  • Research Design
  • Resuscitation Orders