Developing sensory awareness in qualitative interviewing: A portal into the otherwise unexplored

A. Harris*, M. Guillemin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Within the social sciences there has been an increased interest in the senses. Much of this work has focused on ethnographic methods and has concentrated on research about the senses. In this article we focus on interviews and examine the value of expanded interviewing strategies that use the senses as access points. We argue that a sensory awareness can enrich interviews by offering a portal to otherwise unexplored illness or health care experiences which are either too difficult to articulate or too intangible to describe. Sensory awareness incorporates not only attentiveness to the research environment but also the utilization of sensory questions or prompts to gain insight into the research experience. We draw from a variety of empirical studies, and offer methodological guidance to the researcher while exploring ethical and challenging aspects of incorporating sensory awareness into the research interview.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-699
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

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