Participants' views of telephone interviews within a grounded theory study

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To offer a unique contribution to the evolving debate around the use of the telephone during semistructured interview by drawing on interviewees' reflections on telephone interview during a grounded theory study.


The accepted norm for qualitative interviews is to conduct them face-to-face. It is typical to consider collecting qualitative data via telephone only when face-to-face interview is not possible. During a grounded theory study, exploring users' experiences with overnight mask ventilation for sleep apnoea, the authors selected the telephone to conduct interviews. This article reports participants' views on semistructured interview by telephone.


An inductive thematic analysis was conducted on data pertaining to the use of the telephone interview in a grounded theory study.


The data were collected during 4 months of 2011 and 6 months in 2014. The article presents an inductive thematic analysis of sixteen participants' opinions about telephone interviewing and discusses these in relation to existing literature reporting the use of telephone interviews in grounded theory studies.


Overall, participants reported a positive experience of telephone interviewing. From each participants reports we identified four themes from the data: being ‘phone savvy; concentrating on voice instead of your face; easy rapport; and not being judged or feeling inhibited.


By drawing on these data, we argue that the telephone as a data collection tool in grounded theory research and other qualitative methodologies need not be relegated to second best status. Rather, researchers can consider telephone interview a valuable first choice option.

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