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Concept: Grounded theory


BACKGROUND: Dieting has historically been the main behavioural treatment paradigm for overweight/obesity, although a non-dieting paradigm has more recently emerged based on the criticisms of the original dieting approach. There is a dearth of research contrasting why these approaches are adopted. To address this, we conducted a qualitative investigation into the determinants of dieting and non-dieting approaches based on the perspectives and experiences of overweight/obese Australian adults. METHODS: Grounded theory was used inductively to generate a model of themes contrasting the determinants of dieting and non-dieting approaches based on the perspectives of 21 overweight/obese adults. Data was collected using semi-structured interviews to elicit in-depth individual experiences and perspectives. RESULTS: Several categories emerged which distinguished between the adoption of a dieting or non-dieting approach. These categories included the focus of each approach (weight/image or lifestyle/health behaviours); internal or external attributions about dieting failure; attitudes towards established diets, and personal autonomy. Personal autonomy was also influenced by another category; the perceived knowledge and self-efficacy about each approach, with adults more likely to choose an approach they knew more about and were confident in implementing. The time perspective of change (short or long-term) and the perceived identity of the person (fat/dieter or healthy person) also emerged as determinants of dieting or non-dieting approaches respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The model of determinants elicited from this study assists in understanding why dieting and non-dieting approaches are adopted, from the perspectives and experiences of overweight/obese adults. Understanding this decision-making process can assist clinicians and public health researchers to design and tailor dieting and non-dieting interventions to population subgroups that have preferences and characteristics suitable for each approach.

Concepts: Psychology, Focus group, Cognition, Qualitative research, Knowledge, Grounded theory, Perspective, Self-determination


The vast majority of people experience involuntary musical imagery (INMI) or ‘earworms’; perceptions of spontaneous, repetitive musical sound in the absence of an external source. The majority of INMI episodes are not bothersome, while some cause disruption ranging from distraction to anxiety and distress. To date, little is known about how the majority of people react to INMI, in particular whether evaluation of the experience impacts on chosen response behaviours or if attempts at controlling INMI are successful or not. The present study classified 1046 reports of how people react to INMI episodes. Two laboratories in Finland and the UK conducted an identical qualitative analysis protocol on reports of INMI reactions and derived visual descriptive models of the outcomes using grounded theory techniques. Combined analysis carried out across the two studies confirmed that many INMI episodes were considered neutral or pleasant, with passive acceptance and enjoyment being among the most popular response behaviours. A significant number of people, however, reported on attempts to cope with unwanted INMI. The most popular and effective behaviours in response to INMI were seeking out the tune in question, and musical or verbal distraction. The outcomes of this study contribute to our understanding of the aetiology of INMI, in particular within the framework of memory theory, and present testable hypotheses for future research on successful INMI coping strategies.

Concepts: Scientific method, Psychology, Philosophy of science, Qualitative research, Hypothesis, Theory, Grounded theory, Human behavior


While sanitation interventions have focused primarily on child health, women’s unique health risks from inadequate sanitation are gaining recognition as a priority issue. This study examines the range of sanitation-related psychosocial stressors during routine sanitation practices in Odisha, India. Between August 2013 and March 2014, we conducted in-depth interviews with 56 women in four life stages: adolescent, newly married, pregnant and established adult women in three settings: urban slums, rural villages and indigenous villages. Using a grounded theory approach, the study team transcribed, translated, coded and discussed interviews using detailed analytic memos to identify and characterize stressors at each life stage and study site. We found that sanitation practices encompassed more than defecation and urination and included carrying water, washing, bathing, menstrual management, and changing clothes. During the course of these activities, women encountered three broad types of stressors-environmental, social, and sexual-the intensity of which were modified by the woman’s life stage, living environment, and access to sanitation facilities. Environmental barriers, social factors and fears of sexual violence all contributed to sanitation-related psychosocial stress. Though women responded with small changes to sanitation practices, they were unable to significantly modify their circumstances, notably by achieving adequate privacy for sanitation-related behaviors. A better understanding of the range of causes of stress and adaptive behaviors is needed to inform context-specific, gender-sensitive sanitation interventions.

Concepts: Sociology, Stage, Grounded theory, Slum, Hygiene, Adaptive Behavior, Sanitation, Village


PURPOSE: To explore the mentor-mentee relationship with a focus on determining the characteristics of effective mentors and mentees and understanding the factors influencing successful and failed mentoring relationships. METHOD: The authors completed a qualitative study through the Departments of Medicine at the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine and the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine between March 2010 and January 2011. They conducted individual, semistructured interviews with faculty members from different career streams and ranks and analyzed transcripts of the interviews, drawing on grounded theory. RESULTS: The authors completed interviews with 54 faculty members and identified a number of themes, including the characteristics of effective mentors and mentees, actions of effective mentors, characteristics of successful and failed mentoring relationships, and tactics for successful mentoring relationships. Successful mentoring relationships were characterized by reciprocity, mutual respect, clear expectations, personal connection, and shared values. Failed mentoring relationships were characterized by poor communication, lack of commitment, personality differences, perceived (or real) competition, conflicts of interest, and the mentor’s lack of experience. CONCLUSIONS: Successful mentorship is vital to career success and satisfaction for both mentors and mentees. Yet challenges continue to inhibit faculty members from receiving effective mentorship. Given the importance of mentorship on faculty members' careers, future studies must address the association between a failed mentoring relationship and a faculty member’s career success, how to assess different approaches to mediating failed mentoring relationships, and how to evaluate strategies for effective mentorship throughout a faculty member’s career.

Concepts: Qualitative research, Grounded theory, Coaching, Success, Alternative education, Youth mentoring, Mentorship, Maybach Foundation


PURPOSE: To understand the nature of excellent clinicians at an academic health science center by exploring how and why excellent clinicians achieve high performance. METHOD: From 2008 to 2010, the authors conducted a qualitative study using a grounded theory approach. Members of the Clinical Advisory Committee in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Toronto nominated peers whom they saw as excellent clinicians. The authors then conducted in-depth interviews with the most frequently nominated clinicians. They audio-recorded and transcribed the interviews and coded the transcripts to identify emergent themes. RESULTS: From interviews with 13 peer-nominated, excellent clinicians, a model emerged. Dominant themes fell into three categories: (1) core philosophy, (2) deliberate activities, and (3) everyday practice. Excellent clinicians are driven by a core philosophy defined by high intrinsic motivation and passion for patient care and humility. They refine their clinical skills through two deliberate activities-reflective clinical practice and scholarship. Their high performance in everyday practice is characterized by clinical skills and cognitive ability, people skills, engagement, and adaptability. CONCLUSIONS: A rich theory emerged explaining how excellent clinicians, driven by a core philosophy and engaged in deliberate activities, achieve high performance in everyday practice. This theory of the nature of excellent clinicians provides a holistic perspective of individual performance, informs medical education, supports faculty career development, and promotes clinical excellence in the culture of academic medicine.

Concepts: Health care, Scientific method, Psychology, Medicine, Clinical trial, Educational psychology, Qualitative research, Grounded theory


The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the process by which hospital staff nurses keep patients safe within their hospital safety culture. Findings from this study culminated in a grounded theory of Managing Risk, the process by which nurses keep their patients safe from harm. Participants perceived that their patients were always at risk (it’s always something), thus keeping patients safe was a continual, repetitive process of managing risk to prevent harm to patients. Stages of this process included risk assessment, risk recognition, prioritization, and protective interventions. Practicing nurses can use this theory to understand and articulate their critical role in keeping patients safe in hospitals. Further examination of this process is necessary for targeted assessment of a safety culture’s impact on bedside nursing practice, thus providing a basis for specific interventions to improve patient safety.

Concepts: Patient, Hospital, Physician, Management, Qualitative research, Nursing, Grounded theory, Safety


Total laryngectomy (TL), a life-preserving surgery, results in profound physical and communication changes for the individual. Physical and psychosocial adjustment to a TL is complex, and quality-of-life (QoL) measures have provided useful knowledge to assist clinical management. However, many tools were developed without considering the perspectives of people who have experienced TL. To improve understanding of the phenomena of living with TL, a qualitative study was conducted which explored the views and experiences of seven men and five women from a range of ages, geographical locations, and social situations who had undergone a TL. Data were collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews, journals, and field notes, and analysed using a constructivist grounded theory approach and symbolic interactionism. The emergent concept was identifying with the altered self after TL as reflected in dynamic multi-level changes (physical, communication, and psycho-emotional) continuously interacting with intrinsic and extrinsic interpersonal factors including personal and socio-cultural constructs, e.g., age, gender, resilience, beliefs, and supports. This process affected the strategies these individuals used to negotiate their social experiences. The extent to which communication changes disrupted social roles affecting a person’s sense of self appeared to relate to long-term adjustment.

Concepts: Psychology, Sociology, Qualitative research, Knowledge, Grounded theory, Individual, Self, Intensive and extensive properties


Qualitative studies of persons with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may affect clinical practice and social policy. However, methodological and ethical challenges may present during studies of persons with these specific mental illnesses. The purpose of this paper is to increase transparency about how researchers addressed these challenges during a recent grounded theory study about engagement in primary care. As the researchers addressed the challenges, they increased understanding about persons with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They also gained insight about the challenges of studying persons with these specific mental illnesses and about the rigor and credibility of qualitative methods.

Concepts: Scientific method, Research, Qualitative research, Mental disorder, Grounded theory, Schizophrenia, Disability, Schizoaffective disorder


To develop a preliminary model of the experiences of people undergoing combined treatment with antidepressant medication and cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for depression.

Concepts: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Grounded theory, Bipolar disorder, Bupropion, Sertraline


Professional reasoning used by occupational therapists in home modifications as they develop from novice to expert was explored in this grounded theory study. Eight occupational therapists participated in multiple interviews and member checks about home modifications training and practice. Formal academic and experiential learning provided the foundation for reasoning systems and habits of practice. As therapists gained expertise, they were able to shift their primary focus from systematic reasoning steps to focus on the comprehensive, client-centered, and contextual picture. Creative educational strategies support confidence in engaging in home modifications practice.

Concepts: Psychology, Critical thinking, Grounded theory, Expert, Alternative education