Administering questionnaires to older people: Rigid adherence to protocol may deny and disacknowledge emotional expression

Kay de Vries, Carol Leppa, Rosemarie Sandford, Vasso Vydelingum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper draws on data from a larger study conducted in care home facilities in: Seattle, USA; West Sussex and Surrey in the UK; and in the lower North Island in New Zealand. Two extracts from interactions between the researchers and an older person during the administration of The Philadelphia Geriatric Morale Scale in a care home facility in New Zealand were analysed following Houtkoop-Steenstra and using a Conversation Analysis (CA) approach. In the first extract the audio-recorded transcript was examined for events of institutional talk and rephrasing of questionnaire questions. We also examined the transcript for missed cues and the impact of closed questions when administrating questionnaires to older people living in care home facilities. We then present an extract where the researcher uses a conversational approach during the administration of the same questionnaire. We conclude that rigid adherence to interview protocols when administering questionnaires to older people who cannot complete these themselves disables the interviewer from interacting and engaging in a meaningful conversation or responding to cues that indicate distress or expressions of grief. The effect of this approach may deny and disacknowledge older persons' emotional experiences and for the older person the interview may not be a therapeutic encounter. Based on our analysis and experiences of conducting this research we support recommendations that a collaborative approach, allowing an interactional exchange between interviewer and respondent, be used when administering questionnaires to older people in care home facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-138
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Aging Studies
Publication statusPublished - 6 Oct 2014

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© 2015. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license


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