Qualitative Health Research Network


Jonathan Smith

Developing more complex designs in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) health research

Seminar details

Title: Developing more complex designs in Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) health research

Date: 24th January 2024

Time: 13:00-14:00 (UK time)


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Recent years have witnessed a growth of interest in more complex designs in IPA studies. These advanced designs are not unique to IPA. Rather IPA researchers are implementing them in ways compatible with and playing to the strength of IPA and thereby constructing studies which are pretty distinctive in their contributions. In this paper I will introduce each of these developments and illustrate them with studies conducted in the health and/or clinical arena. The approaches I will be looking at are:

  • Multi modal: employing IPA alongside data collected in a different form for example participants’ pictorial representations.
  • Longitudinal: following participants through time.
  • Mixed methods: using IPA and another method as part of a bigger mixed methods study.
  • Multi perspectival: examining an issue through the different lenses of participants with different perspectives on the topic under investigation.

Speaker biography

Jonathan A Smith is Professor of Psychology at Birkbeck University of London. He has developed Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) as a distinctive experiential research method. IPA has grown to become a leading qualitative method in many disciplines, most particularly those concerned with health. Jonathan’s own work has employed IPA to examine a wide range of issues particularly in health and clinical areas, for example pain, clinical genetics, depression. Jonathan is lead author on the best-selling book on IPA [JA Smith, P Flowers & M Larkin (2022) Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis: Theory, Method, Research. London: Sage (2nd ed)]. At Birkbeck he leads the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Research Group made up of academic staff, postdoc researchers and PhD students. He supervises many doctoral research students and teaches qualitative methods at all levels.