Drotsky, L.-M., Sonday, A., & Gretschel, P. (2021). Photo-Elicited Interviews: A Method to Create Open Communication for Mothers Raising Children With Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069211040980
Photo-elicited interviewing (PEI) can make a valuable contribution to understand the lived realities of mothers raising children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), when used as a methodological tool.
This article offers an explanation to some of the challenges experienced by these mothers who are often marginalised by a perception of causing wilful harm. PEI was used in a Master’s thesis that described the ways in which mothers promoted the occupational engagement of their children with FASD in the Pixley Ka Seme District in Northern Cape Province, South Africa.
The study served as an example of how PEI shifted the power balance between the researcher and the mothers to create a space that encouraged mothers as participants to talk openly and freely about the challenges in their daily lives. PEI promoted the agency of participants and enabled the researcher to learn from them as experts in raising their children.
The images discussed during PEI opened valuable doorways to conversation, helping participants prioritise what they want to share, while images acted as reminders during the conversation. Photographs added a visual layer to the verbal data gained through semi-structured interviews, offering a deeper level of insight into the contributions mothers make towards the development of children with FASD.
This article will describe the first author’s experience of using photo-elicited interviews (PEI) as a method of data collection during a Master’s research study entitled: Mother’s facilitation of the occupational engagement of their children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). This study aimed to describe the ways in which mothers promote the engagement of their children with FASD in occupations of productivity (work and school), leisure (play) and self-care. Furthermore, it aimed to describe the personal, environmental and occupational factors that the mothers expressed as limiting and the factors they described as enabling in their attempts to facilitate occupational engagement.
The article starts with a brief description of FASD and offers an overview of alcohol use from an historical perspective. This is followed with a description of the context in which the study was conducted and a rationale for why PEI were selected as a main method of data collection. The findings that emerged from the research are presented with an emphasis on the role of PEI as well as the experience of the researcher and participants, concluding with the way in which PEI helped to raise the voice of a marginalised group.
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