Email as a Data Collection Tool when Interviewing Older Adults

  • Mario A. Brondani University of British Columbia - Faculty of Dentistry
  • Michael I. MacEntee University of British Columbia - Faculty of Dentistry
  • Deborah O'Connor University of British Columbia - School of Social Work

Abstract

This article explores several aspects of electronic communication, specifically its advantages and disadvantages within the context of a brief experience using email to interview elders. Two older adults participated via email as the psychosocial impact of aging was collected using such venue. Our experiences are compared with published reports from others to analyze the benefits and limitations of email as a research tool. The email was spontaneous, comprehensive, interactive, efficient, confidential, and cost effective. The use of email within this exploratory study appeared to be an effective approach to collecting qualitative information about beliefs and behaviours from older adults who feel comfortable with this form of communication. The lack of similar studies limited the scope of discussion and comparison of findings; generalization is limited due to the small sample size. This investigation, however, suggested that the use of email as an interview tool may be considered in today’s exploratory research arena as an alternative to conference calls or face-to-face interviews when time is a constraint.

Author Biographies

Mario A. Brondani, University of British Columbia - Faculty of Dentistry
DDS, MSc, PhD Assistant Professor Oral Health Sciences
Michael I. MacEntee, University of British Columbia - Faculty of Dentistry
LDS(I), FRCD(C), Dipl. Prosth., PhD Professor of prosthodontics and dental geriatrics and affiliated with the ELDERS Research Group Oral Health Sciences
Deborah O'Connor, University of British Columbia - School of Social Work
BSW, MSW, RSW, PhD Professor Director of the UBC Centre for Research on Personhood in Dementia.
Published
2011-08-26
Section
Articles