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Method of analysis

In document Health Literacy: (Page 156-161)

Chapter 4 Research Methodology and Method

4.8 Method of analysis

The data analysis applied Ricoeur’s hermeneutic theory of interpretation. In this, the researcher acknowledges her own presuppositions, her pre-understandings of health literacy, and that research contexts are value-laden (Kvale, 1983; Prasad, 2002). The four key concepts - distanciation, appropriation, explanation, and


interpretation (refer Section 4.5 and Figure 4.1) - have been part of the interpretive process. In Ricoeur’s theory of interpretation the text is objectified and the intent of the author is removed such that the interpreter searches for the text’s meanings not the participant’s unique meanings (Simms, 2004); “…multiple interpretations can faithfully represent a text” (Geanellos, 2000, p. 16).

Ricoeur explains interpretation as involving explanation (what the text says) and understanding (what the text talks about), both of which rest on the various dimensions of the hermeneutic circle (Geanellos, 2000). The effective process of interpretation and understanding according to Ricoeur cannot be achieved without

“repeated engagement with a text...[in order to forestall] premature interpretive closure” (Geanellos, 2002, p. 114). The narrative text collected during the interviews was read multiple times. The initial reading grasped the whole story;

additional readings moved between the parts and the whole, and between the literature and the data. An intra-textual analysis was carried out initially explaining the main details of the text(s) and providing the beginning of an appreciation of the experience of health literacy among baby boomer participants and among primary healthcare professional participants.

437). The next phase built on this surface understanding whereby a structural analysis was undertaken, allowing connections and patterns to be uncovered by dividing the text into units (sentences, paragraphs), themes, and sub themes.

During this phase the software programme ATLAS.ti 7.1.6 was used to help sort and reduce the large amount of textual data. The marking, retrieving, and labelling of the textual data meant reading the text numerous times and reworking the coding system. Initially, the marking of the interview data was largely descriptive.

The software provided a valuable tool for the subsequent iterative processes of moving between the parts of the text and the whole, and between the marking of the text and assigning codes. By utilising a software programme, the checking and reworking of codes was able to occur without losing any of the detail, allowing


the researcher to focus on remaining immersed in the participants’ textual data.

The software programme was used to order and organise the textual data into manageable segments. Appendices 17 and 18 are screenshots of first, the Code Manager function of ATLAS.ti and second, a section of coded interview.

During the third phase, the text was reviewed as a whole taking into account the previous phases. The “…new configurations of meaning…” (Ricoeur, 1981b, p.

39) evolved in a dialectic movement between the whole and parts of the text and between pre-understanding and new understandings, whereby these new understandings were contextualised through relevant literature, allowing “…the chosen literature [to] illuminate the interview text and interview text [to]

illuminate the chosen literature…Sometimes we need several literature texts to illuminate various aspects or parts of the interview text” (Lindseth & Norberg, 2004, p. 151). Finally, to understand the text as a whole demanded imagination where, “The focus is [was] not on what the text says but on the possibilities of living in the world that the interview text opens up” (Lindseth & Norberg, 2004, p.

151). For Ricoeur (1974, p. 110) imagination is not “...the faculty of deriving

‘images’ from sensory experiences, but as the capacity to let new worlds build our self-understanding…conveyed by…emerging meanings in our language”.

4.8.1 Categories of description

This process was not linear but required recursive loops between all the dimensions of analysis and interpretation as illustrated earlier in Figure 4.1.

During this iterative process the interpretive construction resulting from the text was described using labels, often in words that participants themselves used.

These interpretive labels were identified to fit with the “concerns, values, and meanings that regularly occur[red] in the dialogue” (Sayre, 2001, p. 97) and was a vital stage in making explicit the researcher’s understanding (Polkinghoime, 2000).

In this thesis, categories of description were used to convey Ricoeur’s emerging meanings. The process moved from initially using metaphors to phenomenographic categories of description. Ricoeur states that “metaphor relies


on…[the] ‘attribution’ of characters to the ‘principal subject’ of a sentence”

(Ricoeur, 1974b, p. 97) and the meaning is carried by this specific structure.

Although metaphors were originally conceived as useful interpretations of participants’ understanding/meaning of health literacy, further dialectic interpretation concluded that the attributions were too contrived (Black as cited in Ricoeur, 1974b, p. 102, notes that metaphors are “supported by specially constructed systems of implications…”), often removing the interpretive metaphor far from the world of the participants.

The researcher then developed a word or short phrase to capture the essence of the events, behaviours, or roles described by participants, checking these by moving between the text and literature, between explanation and understanding. The problem between explanation and understanding is that, as Ricoeur notes, “…the capacity to follow a story expresses the irreducible component of understanding in the act of narrating …” (1981b, p. 38), the backdrop to which is the “formidable question of creativity” (p. 38). Drawing from phenomenographic research, categories of description were chosen as appropriate vehicles for “communicating the ways in which people experience a particular phenomenon” (Marton & Booth, 1997, p. 125).33 Each category had to reveal something distinct about the phenomenon of health literacy, each category had to relate logically to the others, and the system of categories had to be as parsimonious as feasible for capturing the variation in the phenomenon (Yates, Partridge, & Bruce, 2012). The categories of description are not identical with the ways participants experienced the phenomenon of health literacy but are used to denote them. One aspect whereby Ricoeur grafts hermeneutics to a phenomenological philosophy is in the object of analysis becoming the subject; “the subject becomes, under a hermeneutic analysis, ‘like’ a text” (Ihde, 1974, p. xv). Therefore, the interpretation must decipher the text as well as allowing for an interpretation of the ‘text-self’. In this thesis, the approach to account for these meanings was to label the categories of description as nouns (seeker, enabler, etc, refer Tables 5.1 and 6.1).

33 Ricoeur encourages different techniques in interpretation and comprehension, “…no noteworthy interpretation has been formulated which does not borrow from the modes of comprehension available [to a given epoch]…” (1974b, p. 4).


The resultant categories of description use everyday language, staying as close as possible to the terms expressed in the participants’ textual data, since “[a]

researcher who has interpreted players’ actions must also… be able to put this within a context and language which is transparent to others…” (Debesay, Naden,

& Slettebo, 2008, p. 58-59). For each category of description, verbs were used to communicate the key meanings (e.g., taking responsibility, experimenting, as in Table 5.1 and acting with professionalism, being a partner, as in Table 6.1) since

“Verbs are better at revealing lived experience than nouns” (Lindseth & Norberg, 2004, p. 151).

The systematic and formal processes of arriving at these categories of description and the key meanings followed the structural hermeneutic analysis, but there was also a part in the process where “the imagination operates…to produce new configurations of meaning...” and “…the productive imagination assumes the form of a semantic innovation” (Ricoeur, 1981b, p. 39). Although Ricoeur argues (1981c, p. 53) that one can never claim that the interpretation is complete “It is always possible to argue for or against an interpretation, to confront an interpretation to arbitrate between them…”, an interpretation must not only be probable but must be considered more probable than others. The interpretations presented by these categories of description are those considered by the researcher to provide a “sensible meaning, a valid unitary meaning, free of inner contradictions” (Kvale, 1983, p. 185) that generate new understandings of the phenomenon. The basis for the resultant interpretation being the most probable derives from the participants’ textual data and the integrity of the interpretive processes.

Even though other readers may not arrive at the same meanings as this researcher, it was important that the interpretive decision making was supported and hence interview excerpts are used throughout the analysis and interpretation. The use of participants’ quotes provides context and meaning to the particular interpretation chosen by the researcher; “the description must not be so thin as to remove context and meaning” (Patton, 2002, p. 503) and thick enough to elaborate the meaning of the category of description. The interpretation chapters (Chapters 5


and 6) follow a similar procedure to Williams and Irurita (1998), naming the category of description, followed by the researchers’ description of the meaning of the category, and then quotations from the interview data illustrating the type of text that describes the category of description.

In document Health Literacy: (Page 156-161)