10: How to work with my setting

No Prompt (extra entry): On problems presented by my setting

I am growing increasingly excited about the prospect of studying automated check-in systems at doctor’s offices. However, this subject also presents some problems that I need to work through because of the setting. I initially thought that working in a waiting room might reduce privacy concerns. However, I’m now thinking it actually heightens the problem. The waiting room is not really a public space. (In fact, the legal status of a waiting room would depend on the specific clinic.) Therefore, the increased freedom I was initially thinking would come from that sense of “public” is, I now believe, false. In addition, choosing the waiting room as a setting for observation severely decreases subjects’ abilities to opt out of my research, and it presents problems in terms of informing people that they are subjects in a research study. Informing them before they use the system would skew my results, and informing them afterword may not be possible. This would also mean I was approaching people in a vulnerable state–they’re sick, rushed, already handling something new … in other words, I see these people as a vulnerable population.

All things considered, I believe observation may not be the way to go with such a study. I’m now considering surveys or interviews as an alternative method, which presents the problem of picking a population to study.

I’ll keep thinking about it.

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