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Methods and Management of the Healthy Brain Study: A Large Multisite Qualitative Research Project

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Gerontologist Volume 49, ISSN 0016-9013


Purpose of the study: To describe processes used in the Healthy Brain project to manage data collection, coding, and data distribution in a large qualitative project, conducted by researchers at 9 universities in 9 states. Design and Methods: Project management protocols included: (a) managing audiotapes and surveys to ensure data confidentiality, data tracking and distribution; (b) managing qualitative data to ensure the accuracy and confidentiality of transcription; (c) training in qualitative methods and use of qualitative software; and (d) managing participant survey data and analysis. Results: The project team coded and managed qualitative and survey data for 69 focus groups with more than 500 participants. Multiple interactive training sessions in qualitative data analysis and use of qualitative software (ATLAS.ti) were conducted. To develop a codebook, 2 teams used an open-coding process to identify codes and develop definitions; 2 team members integrated and conceptually organized these results into an initial codebook. For the audio-recordings from each research site, 2 or 3 team members hand coded 1 transcript and calculated interrater agreement (0.80 or higher). Implications: Using clear protocols, participatory training sessions, team-based coding, and frequent communication among team members via e-mail and regular in-person meetings promotes effective management of large-scale qualitative research projects.


Laditka, S.B., Corwin, S.J., Laditka, J.N., Liu, R., Friedman, D.B., Mathews, A.E. & Wilcox, S. (2009). Methods and Management of the Healthy Brain Study: A Large Multisite Qualitative Research Project. Gerontologist, 49,. Retrieved October 17, 2019 from .

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