Objective: This study looked look at the role of the GP as a qualitative research interviewer and aimed to illustrate areas of methodological difficulty using personal observations made during a qualitative study in general practice.
Methods and results: The recently published literature on qualitative research in general practice was reviewed by the author to inform her own qualitative study looking at how women decide how to feed their babies. Some women in the study were patients of the author; some knew that she is a GP but were registered at another practice and some did not know that she is a doctor. In-depth and semi-structured interviews were tape recorded and transcribed. Observations about combining general practice and qualitative research were recorded by the author in a research diary.
Conclusion: Qualitative research is being advocated as a methodology appropriate for general practice, yet there are many unanswered questions about methodological detail. There are no guidelines to help GPs to decide whether it is appropriate for them to do the interviewing, the practicalities of doing it, and whether they should use their own patients. There is clearly a need for more methodological research to look at how these decisions influence the data and to inform GPs who are considering a qualitative study.