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An exploration of the data collection methods utilised with children, teenagers and young people (CTYPs)

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      The impact of cancer upon children, teenagers and young people can be profound. Research has been undertaken to explore the impacts upon children, teenagers and young people with cancer, but little is known about how researchers can ‘best’ engage with this group to explore their experiences. This review paper provides an overview of the utility of data collection methods employed when undertaking research with children, teenagers and young people.

      A systematic review of relevant databases was undertaken utilising the search terms ‘young people’, ‘young adult’, ‘adolescent’ and ‘data collection methods’. The full-text of the papers that were deemed eligible from the title and abstract were accessed and following discussion within the research team, thirty papers were included.


      Due to the heterogeneity in terms of the scope of the papers identified the following data collections methods were included in the results section. Three of the papers identified provided an overview of data collection methods utilised with this population and the remaining twenty seven papers covered the following data collection methods: Digital technologies; art based research; comparing the use of ‘paper and pencil’ research with web-based technologies, the use of games; the use of a specific communication tool; questionnaires and interviews; focus groups and telephone interviews/questionnaires.

      The strengths and limitations of the range of data collection methods included are discussed drawing upon such issues as of the appropriateness of particular methods for particular age groups, or the most appropriate method to employ when exploring a particularly sensitive topic area.


      There are a number of data collection methods utilised to undertaken research with children, teenagers and young adults. This review provides a summary of the current available evidence and an overview of the strengths and limitations of data collection methods employed.

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      Most cited references 59

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      Digital Ethnography: An Examination of the Use of New Technologies for Social Research

       D. P. Murthy (2008)
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        Psychological, social, and behavioral issues for young adults with cancer.

        Theories of human development suggest that, although all cancer patients experience a common set of life disruptions, they experience them differently, focus on different issues, and attach different levels of importance to different aspects of the experience depending on the time in life at which they were diagnosed. During the critical developmental transition from childhood to adulthood, older adolescents and young adults in particular have typical concerns with establishing identity, developing a positive body image and sexual identity, separating from parents, increasing involvement with peers and dating, and beginning to make decisions about careers or employment, higher education, and/or family. Accordingly, cancer-related issues such as premature confrontation with mortality, changes in physical appearance, increased dependence on parents, disruptions in social life and school/employment because of treatment, loss of reproductive capacity, and health-related concerns about the future may be particularly distressing for adolescents and young adults. Psychosocial and behavioral interventions for young adult cancer patients and survivors often involve assisting these individuals in retaining or returning to function in significant social roles, such as spouse, parent, student, worker, or friend. Successful interventions will enable these young people to overcome the detrimental impact of a health crisis and strengthen the internal and external coping resources available to them.
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          Doing synchronous online focus groups with young people: methodological reflections.

          Although online focus groups are emerging as a worthwhile methodological approach for qualitative researchers, reporting has been constrained in several ways. The majority of studies report asynchronous groups, whereas others employ synchronous exchanges, the efficacy of which with young people has seldom been explored. Considering the popularity of the Internet as a communication tool for young people, this missed opportunity is surprising. Based on a series of synchronous online focus groups with young people, the authors explore why this approach might be an effective way of engaging young people with appearance-related concerns in research. In this article, they discuss the process of hosting and moderating synchronous online focus groups, highlighting some of the ethical, pragmatic, and personal challenges that might face researchers using this method. Through a reflexive approach, they intend to inform and encourage qualitative researchers to consider alternative ways of engaging young people in research.

            Author and article information

            [ ]The Department of Primary Care Clinical Sciences, The University of Birmingham, B15 2TT Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK
            [ ]Centre for Children and Families Applied Research, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, Coventry University, Priory Street, CV1 5FB Coventry, UK
            BMC Res Notes
            BMC Res Notes
            BMC Research Notes
            BioMed Central (London )
            1 March 2015
            1 March 2015
            : 8
            4359510 1018 10.1186/s13104-015-1018-y
            © Flanagan et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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            data collection methods, research methods, young adults, teenagers, children


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