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J Adv Nurs. 2003 Jan;41(1):80-7.

Establishing methodological rigour in international qualitative nursing research: a case study from Ghana.

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Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.



Attention to rigour, from the identification of the problem to the dissemination of the findings, is essential in all qualitative research. In this paper, research carried out in Ghana in 1999 is used to highlight methodological issues in relation to rigour in international qualitative nursing research.


The purpose of this paper is to review the literature in relation to rigour in qualitative research, highlight the methodological decisions enhancing rigour during this research project, and describe the criteria used to assess rigour during the research process.


A participatory action research design was used to explore the cultural, social, economic, and political factors that influenced Ghanaian women's vulnerability to HIV infection. Collaboration with participants and partnerships with key professionals were integral to the design of the study.


Participatory action research provided a flexible, socially, and culturally adaptable framework to guide this international research project. Prior to the initiation of international research it was essential to establish the relevance and feasibility of the proposed project. This international research project posed additional methodological challenges to the establishment of rigour. Patience, flexibility and sensitivity were required of the researcher to overcome these challenges.


Collaboration with participants and with culture-specific 'experts' may be key to culturally competent scholarship, particularly in unfamiliar settings.

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