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Qual Health Res. 2013 Dec;23(12):1697-707. doi: 10.1177/1049732313509893. Epub 2013 Oct 23.

Using care ethics to enhance qualitative research on rural aging and care.

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1Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.


Qualitative research offers important insights into the subjectivity, complexity, and relationality of care. In this article, we examine the particular processes and relationships involved in doing qualitative research about care with older people in rural places. We draw on our experience completing two related qualitative studies of rural care in Canada to extend discussions about responsible research practice in relation to participant recruitment, interviews, and focus groups. By applying Hankivsky's principles of care ethics in our reflection on research practices, we make explicit the role of emotions in connecting with research participants, collecting and participating in narrative-based research, and negotiating identity. We conclude with a discussion of the distinct ways in which applying care ethics throughout the research process can augment reflexive practice and enhance the integrity and theoretical contributions of qualitative health research while developing more inclusive understandings of vulnerability in older rural populations.


aging; caregivers / caregiving; focus groups; health care, rural / remote; interviews; older people; reflexivity; relationships, research; research, qualitative; vulnerable populations

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