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Innovation in qualitative interviews: “Sharing Circles” in a First Nations community
  1. J P Rothe,
  2. D Ozegovic,
  3. L J Carroll
  1. Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr, J P Rothe; Alberta Centre for Injury Control & Research, University of Alberta, 4075 RTF, 8308-114 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2E1, Canada; peter.rothe{at}


There is growing recognition that different research approaches are necessary to understand the complex interaction between individual and social processes that contribute to risk-taking and injuries. Therefore, qualitative studies have an important role in injury prevention research. This article describes qualitative research in general and outlines some of the ways qualitative research can add to our understanding of injury. It also describes the role, format and methods of interviews (person-to-person and focus groups) commonly performed in qualitative studies, and proposes a novel approach to interviewing that has special relevance and value in injury research with indigenous populations. This methodology adapts focus group methods to be consistent with the goals and procedures of the traditional First Nations communities’ Sharing Circles. This adaptation provides a culturally appropriate and sensitive method of developing a deep and broad understanding of indigenous participants’ verbal descriptions of their feelings, their experiences and their modes of reasoning. After detailing of this adaptation of the Sharing Circle as a vibrant and vital interview and analysis method, the use of Sharing Circle interview methodology will be illustrated in a study investigating how an Alberta First Nations community experiences and deals with disproportionate levels of injuries arising from impaired driving, outlining important findings uncovered using this novel interviewing method. These findings have been informative to First Nations communities themselves, have informed policy makers provincially and nationally, and have instigated culturally appropriate intervention techniques for Canadian First Nations communities.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval These studies were approved by both the health research ethics board (health panel) at the University of Alberta and the Saddle Lake Community Ethics Committee (the First Nations ethics committee relevant to this project).

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and Peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.