Journaling Among Home Care Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

A Promising Method for Qualitative Data Collection

Published in: Qualitative Social Work (2021). doi: 10.1177/14733250211064812

Posted on RAND.org on October 24, 2022

by Julia Bandini, Julia Rollison, Jason Michel Etchegaray

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Qualitative methods that capture individual lived experiences throughout rapidly changing circumstances are particularly important during public health emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has put home care workers at risk as they provide vital services in homes to individuals with chronic conditions or disabilities. Using a 6-week journaling process in which we enrolled participants at different points, we sought to examine experiences of home care workers (n = 47) in the United States in New York and Michigan during April–July 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our methods for data collection and analysis were guided by a general qualitative approach as we aimed to examine the weekly perspectives and lived experiences of home care workers. We asked individuals to respond to our journaling prompts weekly to capture their reflections in "real time." To better understand home care workers' perspectives on journaling and the broader external context in which they provided care, we triangulated our data with interviews with home care workers (n = 19) and home health agency representatives (n = 9). We explored the feasibility of a rolling journaling process during an unprecedented public health emergency, characterized by rapid changes and uncertainty in day-to-day life, and reflect on lessons learned to guide future research on journaling for data collection, particularly for marginalized workers during public health crises, when events are evolving rapidly.

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