Cigarettes and alcohol: An exploration of the tensions and challenges of qualitative research conducted by people with lived experience of substance use

First published: 10/05/2019 | Last updated: May 10th, 2019

Cigarettes and Alcohol: An exploration of the tensions and challenges of qualitative research conducted by people with lived experience of substance use. This paper explores the issues experienced by researchers with lived experience of substance use when conducting research in this field, and the implications of constructing and maintaining multiple identities throughout this process. The experiences of a research project examining attitudes and perspectives about smoking held by adults in a residential rehabilitation service for drug or alcohol use will be used as an example, which illustrates the potential difficulties in balancing the different requirements, expectations and priorities of the multiple roles held simultaneously by the researcher. Personal experiences can be a valuable tool in gaining access to hard to reach populations and in building a rapport with participants in order to facilitate an open and productive interview. However, when the researcher is a former service user, the dynamics of the relationships change and additional expectations and preconceptions from both parties come in to play. The impact of these conflicts on the researcher and participants is discussed, along with the dilemmas of integrity and ingenuity, their role in research and their implications. More engagement with and discussion of this subject is called for to better understand and negotiate such tensions.

Co-Authors

Gordon Hay Reader Public Health Institute Faculty of Education, Health & Community Liverpool John Moores University 2nd Floor Henry Cotton Campus 15-21 Webster Street Liverpool L3 2ET Tel: 0151 231 4385 Fax: 0151 231 4552 Email: g.hay@ljmu.ac.uk


Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest

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Ms Zoe Swithenbank