Table 1

Reasons for Conducting Observations in Primary Care Research, With Clinical Examples

Reasons to ObserveClinical Examples
To understand behaviorDescribe whether or how staff follow clinical guidelines or study protocols
To understand contextUnderstand environmental factors influencing uptake of an intervention
To understand processExamine at baseline how clinical preventive services are delivered in offices
To recognize patternsExamine variations in how clinical preventive services are implemented across multiple practices
To see what people are reluctant to discussIdentify perceived cultural taboos, for example, parents reluctant to discuss HPV vaccination for prepubertal children
To gain direct personal experience and knowledgeExplore patient experiences of undergoing clinical procedures, for example, the experience of colonoscopy preparation
To move beyond selected perceptionsObserve how patients respond to universal screening questions, for example, depression screening, intimate personal violence screening
  • HPV = human papillomavirus.