Prompt 5 (Blakeslee p. 113): Observing a setting
I am planning to use a general physicians’ waiting room as a site for my research. Other potential sites would include different types of waiting rooms, but I am limited to these lobby areas by the scope of my research. The general physician’s office, in particular, is advantageous because I am interested in studying people’s constructions of themselves as patients and examining my observations in relation to gender. The GP’s office, then, is least likely to inflict inherent bias depending on the special treatment patients might be seeking in other settings. This site does pose a challenge in regard to privacy concerns, which I discussed in a non-prompted post below.
I do not feel comfortable doing an observation of a waiting room without having first considered the privacy implications with the help of the IRB committee. I can, however, work based on my observations picked up as a patient myself. Based on the continuing flow of patients and the conspicuousness of someone writing in a waiting room, I suspect that I will use a traditional observation notebook for my research. A tape-recorded log is out of the question because of Illinois laws involving audio tapes; in-the-middle and after-the-fact notes are unnecessary. The two-notebook approach seems burdensome and conspicuous in this setting. Either a traditional or dialogic notebook might work; I favor the traditional because I believe it will help me to record as objectively as possible and reserve analysis for later.
Prompt 6 (Blakeslee p. 118): Looking at how others analyze artifacts
This response refers to:
Lawrence, D. “Cashing in on check-in: As hospitals face steeper challenges in collecting fees for service, bringin the revenue cycle to the kiosk may be an answer.” Healthcare informatics 27.1 (2010): 18, 20.
This prompt was difficult for me to respond to because I have so far been unable to find work in the genre I’ll be writing in on check-in kiosks. The article referenced above reads more like a newspaper or magazine report. Therefore, the texts used as artifacts in this article are primarily interviews with experts. It is also obvious that Lawrence has developed some familiarity with the technologies he discusses–kiosks and tablets–themselves. Lawrence relied on these sources because they were primary sources that did not require significant investments of his time, which is appropriate to the genre in which he is writing. Again adhering to genre, he largely refrained from personally analyzing them, but used expert testimony to frame these technologies in terms of revenue and legal precedent on billing patients for services. His discoveries from this analysis are as follows (verbatim from the article’s conclusion):
- Kiosks are expected to become more interactive in terms of the revenue cycle.
- Consent forms and way-finding are the more traditional uses of kiosks.
- The emergency room is an ideal place to use kiosk or tablet technology because of the long waits.
- Using tablets before a full kiosk implementation is a sound strategy.
No Prompt (extra entry): Update to research question and other details
The future audience for my proposal is scholars in my field. More specifically, I’ll be trying to reach scholars in technical communication and gender studies, rhetoric and composition. (While I envision someday producing products with a “general public” audience, I feel the need to establish myself in this way first.) My research question, at this moment, is: Does gender/sex affect the ways that people utilize automated check-in technologies in physicians’ offices? My method for answering this question, at least in its first iteration, is observation. I hope to sit in a lobby area and watch as people check in for appointments.
Prompt 2 (Blakeslee p. 105): Researching in Multiple Ways
Cairns, Kate, Johnston, Josee, and Baumann, Shyon. “Caring About Food: Doing Gender in the Foodie Kitchen.” Gender & Society 24.5 (2010): 591-615 . Print.
Cairns, Johnston, and Baumann conducted interviews with 30 subjects to examine how gender is constructed and perceived in foodie culture; they theorize their results in three categories: pleasure, care work, and knowledge/expertise. I would argue that they did use triangulation–although they do not explicitly address it–because they also surveyed literature in the field, including online literature such as the blogs of some of their participants. They also produced tables, which are the results of survey-style questions, that show demographic information for each of their 30 participants. This use of triangulation contributed a sense of accuracy. Rather than collecting one-time only written statements and analyzing what they happened to get, these researchers took the time to get to know their participants and understand those participants’ perceptions of foodie culture. One part of this article I found lacking was the dearth of attention to gender performance as an indicator of views on foodie culture. The article essentially examines the role of sex–that is, how women and men perceive and are perceived differently in this culture. However, several of the participants are listed as “partnered” rather than “married,” and I wonder how this distinction–presumably one of attention to gender roles–might have affected results.
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.
Prompt 8 (Blakeslee p. 52): Identifying a setting
The setting I am now considering for my research is a waiting room in a general physician’s office. I believe it is a good setting for my research question for a number of reasons, most specifically that it will allow me to observe communication in a medical setting with a minimal amount of privacy concern. Also, although I haven’t done the research to back this up yet, I suspect this may be an area that has not been much focused on previously, thereby creating a gap in available scholarship that I could help fill. (We’ll see how that pans out once I start doing research on this setting.) I do know that IRB and local permissions will still be major issues because of the medical setting.
Furthermore, I am now thinking about studying a new mechanized check-in system that has recently been put into place at my local doctor’s office. ISU’s clinic has had this system in place for a longer time, so these two sites might provide an interesting comparative study.
- Required approvals will include the university IRB and an administrator of a local waiting room/doctor’s office.
- These people will likely be concerned about patients’ rights to privacy. I hope to allay those concerns by explaining that I will be observing interactions only in the public space of the waiting room. I may also need to secure the permission of those I observe, though this would have to be done after the fact.
- Establishing good rapport could be done by letting these individuals know about ways they and patients stand to benefit from my research. As I don’t have the specifics of my research nailed down yet, I can’t discuss these well … but any research I do will have benefits for participants.
- My main obstacle will be negotiating privacy concerns. I will also have to learn on-the-job about the things I’m looking for. I’m quite sure this research will require at least one pilot study.
- Many of my responses to obstacles will have to be devised as obstacles come up. In advance, I can take steps to assure patient privacy and to minimize the effect I have on the environment as an observer.
Prompt 9 (Blakeslee p. 55): Thinking about lenses
- I gravitate toward approaches that favor thinking about social and cultural influences, and I’m especially interested in areas that are of current popular interest. In terms of approaches, then, methodologies that privilege ideas about ethics and sustainability are important to me.
- My personal beliefs and preferences are intimately tied up in my research. The United States currently faces what has been dubbed a healthcare crisis. As a professional reporter, I saw the personal effects of this crisis and resulting legislation firsthand. Also, as a graduate student, I get by on an insurance policy that is different from what most people have (or lack).
- My theoretical beliefs tend toward approaches that put egalitarian concerns first. For me, this means I’m interested in technology (and its posited democratizing effects) and feminism.
- I struggle to see my own biases, and I think qualitative research is important for this reason. I suspect I am biased in my search for places where gender is constructed in ways that are damaging to women. Honestly, I’m OK with this bias (which is perhaps a problem) because I see it as a natural reaction to a world that does the opposite. I am also biased in economic ways that sometimes embarrass me deeply. I know that I grew up economically privileged, but I also worked very hard to get where I am (as did my husband, who grew up in a very different context). I consider myself a fiscal conservative, which is certainly an anomaly in academia. This could definitely be construed as a bias.