Experiences in broker-facilitated participatory cross-cultural research: Overcoming practical and ethical challenges

Stephanie P. Kowal, Tania Bubela, Cynthia Jardine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Health researchers are increasingly using community-based participatory research approaches because of the benefits accrued through ongoing community engagement. The documentation of our research partnership highlights key ethical and analytical challenges researchers face in participatory research, particularly in projects partnering with service providers or cultural brokers in cross-cultural settings. In this article, we describe how choices made to accommodate a participatory research approach in the examination of vaccination behavior impacted the process and outcomes of our qualitative inquiries. First, we found that employing multiple interviewers influenced the breadth of discussion topics, thus reducing the ability to achieve saturation in small study populations. This was mitigated by (a) having two people at each interview and (b) using convergent interviewing, a technique in which multiple interviewers discuss and include concepts raised in interviews in subsequent interviews to test the validity of interview topics. Second, participants were less engaged during the informed consent process if they knew the interviewer before the interview commenced. Finally, exposing identity traits, such as age or immigration status, before the interview affected knowledge cocreation, as the focus of the conversation then mirrored those traits. For future research, we provide recommendations to reduce ethical and analytical concerns that arise with qualitative interview methods in participatory research. Specifically, we provide guidance to ensure ethical informed consent processes and rigorous interview techniques.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Qualitative Methods
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative research
  • Cross-cultural research
  • Informed consent
  • Interviews
  • Knowledge construction
  • Qualitative analysis
  • Qualitative research
  • Research relationships


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