Conducting dyadic research in chronic illness: men, women and endometriosis
Despite a growing literature on the value of couple data in studies of particular social phenomena, individuals still constitute the basic unit of analysis in most qualitative research. This paper explores the complexities of carrying out dyadic research with couples living with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a common enigmatic gynaecological condition. There is no known cause and the primary symptom (pain) does not correlate with the observable extent of disease. Endometriosis has a huge impact on the lives of women, but despite the chronic, potentially disabling and gendered nature of the condition there is little work on the psychosocial impact on couples. The ESRC-funded Endopart study was designed to explore the experience of heterosexual couples living with endometriosis and included detailed face-to-face interviews with 22 heterosexual couples. Men and women were interviewed separately, in most cases simultaneously by two different interviewers. Through a reflexive account of the research process, the paper explores the rationale for dyadic research and discusses the practical, ethical and methodological challenges of using a dyadic approach. In particular, it assesses the complexities of using solo rather than joint interviews identifying both advantages and difficulties at the level of data collection and in relation to dyadic data analysis. Despite ethical and interpretive complexities, it is argued that this approach allowed participants to articulate perceptions and experiences considered to be relationally or emotionally highly sensitive, permitted men’s accounts to be heard unmediated by women’s participation and has allowed a unique insight into how couples navigate this common chronic condition.
Citation : Hudson, N, Culley, L, Law, C, Mitchell, H. and Denny, E. (2013) Conducting dyadic research in chronic illness: men, women and endometriosis. Paper presented to the British Sociological Association's 2013 Medical Sociology Annual Conference, University of York, UK, 11-13 September 2013.
Research Group : Reproduction Research Group
Research Institute : Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)