Accessing What Patients Won’t Say

In many circumstances, people living with chronic health conditions can become avoidant and defensive when it comes to thinking and talking about sensitive and threatening topics in life and certainly in the context of market research.

To bypass these kinds of inhibiting dynamics, when appropriate, we ask patients to recruit a trusted confidant to participate alongside them in an at-home ethnographic interview. This person is a confidant, someone with whom the patient has already established deep trust and intimacy and with whom s/he is already accustomed to sharing this kind of information.

In our experience, the confidant plays several roles in the interview:

  1. They can be a source of information about the patient
  2. They can add color and corrections to information shared by the patient
  3. Their presence can prime the patient to be more open and comfortable talking and hearing about experiences and topics that might feel too threatening to process while alone.

Overall, the intimate dynamics between confidant and patient facilitates our ability to unearth information about the patient’s experience that might otherwise remain concealed and unknown to us.

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