Primary Health Care Research and Development


A reflection on ten years experience of providing qualitative research training in primary care

Valerie A. Featherstone a1c1, Rosaline S. Barbour a2 and Julie Garner a3
a1 The Wolds Primary Care Research Network (WoReN) 1 , East Yorkshire, UK
a2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Dundee, and Facilitator for the Workshops, East Yorkshire, UK
a3 The Wolds Primary Care Research Network (WoReN), East Yorkshire, UK

Article author query
featherstone va   [Google Scholar] 
barbour s   [Google Scholar] 
garner j   [Google Scholar] 


Aims: To gain structured feedback on a qualitative research methods training programme delivered to primary care researchers over a period of ten years. To examine dilemmas and challenges and how these had been resolved. To examine how the programme could be further developed. Background: The Wolds Primary Care Research Network's (WoReN) qualitative research methods training programme was developed and evolved in response to the needs of primary care practitioners and researchers and the NHS Research Agenda. Methods: Information on participants' professional backgrounds: which workshops they attended; their evaluation sheets, comments; and personal appraisals were collected from 1996 to 2006. Structured telephone conversations with a number of participants and ongoing informal feedback from participants added to this information. Numbers and ranges of professionals attending workshops were ascertained, how far they travelled to workshops and further degrees obtained by them, within the decade, were also noted. Findings: We found a lack of similar training elsewhere. A wide range of people attended workshops, especially general practitioners (GP) and academic researchers. Other practitioners were a significant presence however, and included nurses, pharmacists, health visitors and professions allied to medicine. Participants were prepared to attend extended workshops and to travel significant distances to them. Participants preferred a continuous cycle of workshops rather than discreet sessions, in order for them to consolidate their learning and to develop at their own pace. Practical exercises reflecting the qualitative research process were considered very conducive to learning and participants also appreciated one-to-one consultations about their work and longer-term, ongoing support as they progressed through their projects. Workshop design needed to continually reflect the changing requirements of participants, employers, funders, potential trainers and national NHS requirements. A new audience for training was identified in supervisors not versed in the qualitative paradigm.

(Published Online July 4 2007)
(Received December 2005)
(Accepted November 2006)

Key Words: primary health care; qualitative research; teaching methods; training of trainers.

c1 Address for correspondence: Valerie A. Featherstone, WoReN, Trust Headquarters, Willerby Hill, Beverley Road, Willerby, HU10 6ED, UK. Email:


1 This is funded by The National Co-ordinating Centre for Research Capacity Development.