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Glob Health Promot. 2009 Dec;16(4):16-26. doi: 10.1177/1757975909348111.

Methodological consideration of story telling in qualitative research involving indigenous peoples.

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Department of Agriculture and Environmental Science, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, Centre for Indigenous Peoples' Nutrition and the Environment (CINE), Macdonald Campus of McGill University, Ste-Annede-Bellevue, QC, Canada.



The use of storytelling in qualitative research involving Inuit compliments the oral tradition of Inuit culture. The objective of the research was to explore the use of qualitative methods to gain understanding of the experience of living with diabetes, with the ultimate goal of better formulating health care delivery and health promotion among Inuit.


In-depth interviews were analyzed and interpreted using thematic analysis, open coding, and structured narrative analysis. Inuit community members acted as partners through all stages of the research.


''Because the more we understand, the more we're gonna do a prevention on it ... What I want is use my, use my diabetes, what I have ... so that it can be used by other people for prevention because they'll have understanding about it'' - an Inuk storyteller speaks to the value of education in health promotion. Key methodological issues found relevant to improving qualitative research with Indigenous Peoples include: (i) participatory research methods, grounded in principals of equity, through all phases of research; (ii) the presentation of narratives rather than only interpretations of narratives; (iii) understanding of culture, language, and place to frame the interpretation of the stories in the context within which storytellers experience living with their diabetes, and (iv) the value of multiple methods of analyses.


This article comments on the challenges of conducting rigorous research in a cross-cultural setting and outlines methodologies that can improve qualitative narrative analyses research. The research highlighted experiences of living with diabetes and the ways in which storytellers coped and negotiated social support.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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