Involving service users in the qualitative analysis of patient narratives to support healthcare quality improvement

Louise Locock* (Corresponding Author), Susan Kirkpatrick, Lucy Brading, Gordon Sturmey, Jocelyn Cornwell, Neil Churchill, Glenn Robert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)
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Patient or user involvement in health research is a well-established principle. However, involvement is often limited to advising on research questions and design, leaving researchers to complete data collection and analysis. Involvement in data analysis is one of the most challenging, least well-explored aspects of involvement. Qualitative interview data forms high volumes of rich, complex material which can be daunting to work with.

Analysing narrative interviews with patients is central to a patient-centred quality improvement method called experience-based co-design. The analysis identifies ‘touchpoints’ – key moments of healthcare experiences – and leads to the production of a ‘trigger film’ to spark codesign discussions between patients and staff. We wanted to see what user involvement in this analysis would bring, and how best to achieve it.


As part of a wider secondary analysis study to create new trigger films, we re-analysed interview transcripts on experiences of young people with depression and experiences of stroke. We then ran two workshops with people with relevant lived experience, working with extracts from the same materials after brief training.


People involved in the workshops identified similar themes to the researcher, but also brought some new insights. While they engaged easily with the materials selected, we under-estimated how much time it would take people to work through these. Discussion and sharing experiences and perspectives were highly valued in the first workshop. In the second workshop, we therefore started with group discussion, based on people’s own experience, of what they thought the touchpoints would be, and later viewed a draft trigger film together to see how it compared.


Those involved felt that while analysing transcripts was possible in small quantities, it was not best use of their time. We suggest that conversation, rather than data, is at the heart of user involvement in analysis. One way to retain the value of lived experience in the analytic process, without over-burdening people with data, is to elicit user reflections on their experience at the start of analysis, and use this as a guide to direct both researcher and service user attention during the remainder of the process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jan 2019

Bibliographical note

Economic and Social Research Council (ES/L01338X/1).

Locock, L., Kirkpatrick, S., Brading, L. et al. Response to “comments on: involving service users in the qualitative analysis of patient narratives to support healthcare quality improvement. Res Involv Engagem 5, 26 (2019).


  • patient and public involvement
  • user involvement
  • patient experience
  • experience-based co-design
  • qualitative analysis
  • qualitative interviews
  • quality improvement
  • health research
  • Quality improvement
  • Patient and public involvement
  • User involvement
  • Experience-based co-design
  • Patient experience
  • Qualitative interviews
  • Health research
  • Qualitative analysis


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