“Going Along” or “Sitting Around” With? Go-Along Interviews With Older People in Hospital to Understand Experiences at Transitions of Care


This case study draws on a longitudinal-focused ethnography, which utilized semi-structured interviews, observation, and “Go-Along” interviews (GAIs) to explore the experience of older people as they transitioned from hospital to home. This was the first time that the researchers had undertaken GAIs. This case study shares insights into the potential benefits and challenges of using this method, especially within health care settings.

Go-Along interviewing is a person-centered, interactive, and participatory method, focusing on understanding participants’ experiences in real time, within changing contexts. The rationale for including GAIs in the study was to elicit thoughts, feelings, and perspectives from older people about their care at transitions, within the context in which care was being delivered and at the moment of experience. The hope was that this method would provide insight into thoughts and emotions that may otherwise remain unconscious or unsaid. The plan was that researchers would accompany participants at key transitional moments, and conversations would be recorded digitally and supplemented by fieldnotes. However, the reality of hospital care meant that this was very challenging to achieve practically. Despite collecting over 150 pieces of data, only four were from GAIs. Nonetheless, this method generated insights that may otherwise not have been directly observed or discussed. Moreover, attempting to “go along” with patients in hospital actually highlighted the sedentary nature of hospital care. Difficulties notwithstanding, the author urges researchers to consider this method, especially to gain access to data where time and location are likely to affect experiences.

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