The latest Qualitative Methods Journal Club focused on handwritten diaries. The article on which the discussion was based was published in 2004, and was written when participants had much less access to technology and social media. These changes formed several discussion points in the Journal Club about how participant behaviours can be documented and the impact of those different methods. The original research used diaries to identify HIV risk behaviours among people who injected drugs. The research identified unexpected events, emotions around behaviours and drug using patterns.

The discussion covered practical implications of asking people to document their life on a daily basis, as well as the literacy limitations of using this as a primary form of data collection. They also considered the ethics of providing harm reduction materials in places where they might be illegal and how this could be overcome. As well as the changing implications for data protection:

“The group also discussed whether diaries pose a threat to data confidentiality by recording personal data on paper and what may happen if the police come in contact with journal entries.  In contrast, one member argued that she would consider paper and pencil to be relatively secure compared to digital recordings and their uploads to the cloud.”

Read the full discussion here, and see the collection of QMJC meetings here.

In May 2022, members of the Department of Community Health and Prevention at Drexel University (Philadelphia, United States) took on hosting duties for the Qualitative Methods Journal Club (QMJC).

Original article: Writing about risk: Use of daily diaries in understanding drug-user risk behaviors by T Stopka and colleagues. Published in  AIDS and Behavior (2004).

by Rob Calder

Editor’s note: The title and link for this website entry was changed on 6 January 2023

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