Table 2

Potential Reasons for Not Conducting Unstructured Observations in Primary Care Research, With Clinical Examples

Potential Reasons
Not to ObserveClinical Examples
Research participants will not tolerate an observerResearch on illicit behaviors, such as drug abuse, or sexual practices relative to use of barrier devices or contraceptives
Participants will changePossible change in adolescent bullying behaviors in presence
behavior if observer is present (Hawthorne effect39)of observer; altered communication behaviors of couples dealing with interpersonal violence; compromising of therapeutic rapport with the added presence of a stranger
Research will compromise participant decency, privacyResearch on physician-patient-family interactions that involves clinical examination of private areas; for example, breast, pelvic, male genital, rectal examinations may not be tolerable
Reporting observations would be stigmatizing or unethicalRisks of stigmatization, which are present for any socially marginalized population