I became involved with the OA-INVOLVE project mid August 2017. At this point, the interviews were already completed and transcribed. My task was to read, review and code the interviews to search for common themes that emerged. Because I became involved with the OA-INVOLVE near the tail end of the 3-year project, reading and coding the interviews was actually an amazing way for me to quickly familiarize myself with the project. In addition, as I was not deeply immersed in the project I was able to review the interview transcripts with a new set of eyes and write an initial iteration of the report with a fresh perspective.
I used NVIVO to code the transcripts and really enjoyed using the software. I felt that the software was very helpful in helping me organize the codes and eventual themes, in a hierarchical manner. Having the ability to easily move codes into different categories depending on what themes emerged saved me a lot of time as I was working within a tight deadline.
The process of writing the first iteration of the report was interesting. I was surprised at some of the themes that emerged. For instance, in the category of barriers to older adults’ active engagement, many PIs mentioned structural and administrative barriers as challenges to meaningfully engaging older adults. This theme was not only interesting, but an extremely important learning opportunity to understand the areas where ethic boards can build into their training and review process, the recognition and acknowledgement of diverse research approaches, such as participatory research approaches. A facilitator often mentioned is that recruiting, retaining and engaging older adults in technology and development projects is of personal interest to the older adults. Many older adults expressed their excitement at the possibilities of technologies enhancing their lives! Moreover, relationship building by fostering familiarity and trust was identified by both researchers and older adults as a key facilitator. This meant having face-to-face meetings wherever possible, and getting to know each other on a personal level really helps break down barriers and fosters rapport. As Braun and Clarke suggest, the process of writing is really an integral part of the analysis.
In addition, I found it very encouraging that despite how busy the PIs were, most PIs interviewed were tremendously accommodating to the older adults in the research process. For example, many PIs indicated they ensured that multiple communication channels were available when engaging with older adults – phone, email, meeting in person and even virtual mediums such as Skype! Some PIs went above and beyond to accommodate - one PI even offered to drive an older adult to their next meeting if required!
The entire process of writing the case study report was very meaningful for our team – we learned so much on the facilitators, barriers and the ways to best involve older adults in technology research and development process at the individual and research systems level and also the institutional and structural systems level. Findings demonstrated that changes to both ethical procedures and funding to council procedures were needed. The OA-INVOVLE team provided such valuable input to the analysis and report writing. The final report was a result of great team work!
In October 2017, our team attended AGE-WELL’s annual general conference in Winnipeg to share our research activities, and more importantly, three members of our Older Adult Research Partner Group joined us! It was really rewarding that we were able to provide older adults the opportunity to not only participate in our project, but to attend AGE-WELL’s annual conference and contribute as co-researchers within the OA-INVOLVE project!
Author: Jennifer Diep, Simon Fraser University