Using metaphor as a qualitative analytic approach to understand complexity in primary care research

Virginia Aita, Helen McIlvain, Jeffrey Susman, Benjamin Crabtree

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Metaphors offer exciting opportunities to identify and explore tacit knowledge and behavior that are embedded in complex organizations and shape health care practices. In this article, the authors explore the theoretical rationale, background, and advantages of using metaphor as an analytic strategy in qualitative health research. They used an analysis of 18 practices in a comparative case study designed to explore office practice strategies for delivering cancer prevention services for illustrations. During the individual and comparative stages of the analysis process, researchers heeded the metaphors that they used in their descriptive language of practices. The authors explore examples showing how metaphors clarify unwritten assumptions, values, and motivators that shape variations in practice behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1419-1431
Number of pages13
JournalQualitative Health Research
Volume13
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Metaphor
  • Practice organization, values
  • Primary care
  • Qualitative health research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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