Elliott, H. (1997) 'The Use of
Diaries in Sociological Research on Health Experience'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 2, no. 2, <http://www.socresonline.org.uk/2/2/7.html>
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Received: 30/8/96 Accepted: 20/6/97 Published: 30/6/97
In particular, data from the study are used to illustrate the role of the 'diary-interview' method in offering a means to 'observe' behaviour which is inaccessible to participant observation. Five key advantages of the diary-interview are discussed, namely the potential of the 'diary-interview' method to accommodate different response modes; the extent to which the method captured diarists' own priorities; the importance of the research process in illuminating the contexts within which helpseeking took place; the role of diaries as both a record of and reflection on the experience of illness and the value of the diary-interview method as a means of understanding what is 'taken for granted' in accounts of health and illness.
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I have to watch what I take with them because they are strong pain killers that I'm on but I'm used to them now I've been on them a long while so I know what I can take and what I can't take. (Mrs B, interview)
The only other thing that happens a lot which I haven't mentioned before is always getting hot a lot. I intend to ask my doctor when I next see her how long this is likely to last for ... I must make some notes to take with me when I see the doctor, because its easy to forget to ask when you are there. (Mrs S, diary)
Felt very well in myself but left leg became very painful at about 8.30 am - worst its ever been had to got to the medical centre for some painkillers the pain went less at about 13.00 hours. The pains seemed to be from the knee up to the hip. Didn't tell the wife about it. (Mr D, diary)
Also Miss Elliott came round and we had a long chat. (Mrs T, diary)
Heather came this afternoon and everything seems alright. (Mr W, diary)
I'm sorry if it seems a bit jumble, I have tried to put things down as I felt them, hope you can read my writing. (Mrs S, note accompanying a diary returned by post)
I woke several times in the early hours (something which happens a lot). (Mr W, diary)
The only other thing which happens a lot which I haven't mentioned before is getting hot a lot. (Mrs S, diary)
I just wanted everything in there so I could write it in here for you. (Ms A, interview)
the one thing I meant to put down that I didn't mention was that I hadn't had headaches for quite a while, the only time I had one was like having a drink related one (laughs) but that was the other day but it wasn't anything to do with normal health, I'd had a drink I just felt tired, but so in myself I've felt OK. (Interview)
28 September, 1996
Told Dad I'd made him an appointment at the doctors, now he's decided I'm doing it on purpose, going out, so he has to go on his own. He won't have to go on his own as I will go with him.
29 September, 1996
Went down to see my Dad this afternoon and explained I wouldn't be able to go in the morning (Monday) I feel a break would do us both some good.
30 September, 1996
Didn't go to my Dad's today. Went to college this morning, had my lunch out, went shopping this afternoon and night school tonight. ... I arrived home at 10 o'clock without a headache.
1 October, 1996
Got up with a raging headache, I have to take my Dad to the doctor's. Went down at 2 pm as his appointment is at 2.40 pm, he had already gone. Met him at the doctors and he did nothing but grumble because it cost him £2.60. If I had gone with him he would have expected me to pay for it like he did last Saturday. My headache is easing off and I'm sure its because I don't need to go to my Dad's again tonight.
While I was in hospital [for an operation to remove her brain tumour] I didn't have any headaches at all. While I was at home here, I was having them night after night because I was pacing the floor every night. I couldn't stand the pain and yet in hospital I didn't have any and I couldn't understand this at all and she [hospital consultant] said 'Well, you've no stress in here, you've nothing. You just sit here and we tell you what to do', and I just laughed, and then when I came home again [after the operation] she said you shouldn't have any more now but they started again so I put it down to stress and leave it at that. (Interview)
Interviewer: And what do you think is causing the stress at the moment?
Mrs T: Its alright to say you haven't lost her [Mrs T's granddaughter] but she's going further and further way - she's 12 now....
Started off not too bad as it is our Pearl Wedding tried hard not to let my pain spoil the day later pain in back leg and neck bad had to take all my painkillers and muscle relaxants. (Mrs B, diary)
I worry that its going to get worse instead of better even though I am trying to keep the exercise going. I have not talked it over with anyone as I sometimes feel that I'm moaning too much. I miss my friend D as perhaps she is the one I would probably have talked things over with. (Mrs S, diary)
Have felt fairly well all day. Never as well as I would like, but you have to accept this and count your blessings. (Mr W, diary)
If I hadn't got them two here [her elder son and her father], everything would be fine, with my granddaughter here and K [her younger son] floating around. (Fieldnotes)
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