The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson

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As part of the Qualitative Research Series, Dr Oliver Thomson speaks with psychologist and researcher Perri Tutelman about her journey and experience in using qualitative research.

Show Notes

Welcome to another episode of the Words Matter Podcast.

So this is the first episode of the Qualitative Research Series, where my guests and I fly above to get a broad overview of qualitative research but then also land on areas to get a more detailed sense of the different theories, methodologies and methods of qualitative research.

In addition to todays episode, the conversations coming up include Grounded Theory with Professors Melanie Birks and Jane Mills, Phenomenology with Dr Pirjo Vuoskoski, Thematic Analysis with Dr Victoria Clarke, Critical approaches with Dr Anna Rajala , Post-qualitative approaches with Dr Jenny Setchell, conversational analysis with Dr Charlotte Albury and there will be a final special qualitative research Ask Us Anything episode with Prof Dave Nicholls. Dave and I will be discussing and answering your questions on qualitative research and related topics.  

So in this first episode of The Qualitative Research Series I’m speaking with Perri Tutelman. Perri is a PhD Candidate in Clinical Psychology at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Canada). Her research is focused on understanding the pain experiences of children with cancer across the disease trajectory (see here and here). She has published several qualitative studies that explore the lived experiences of patients, families, and healthcare providers in the areas of pain and serious illness. She actively mentors graduate students interested in qualitative methods and recently co-guest edited a Special Issue on Qualitative Research and Pain for the Canadian Journal of Pain, and there were some a great webinar on the Special edition with Perri and the other contributors here

So in this episode we speak about:
  • Perri’s journey into qualitative research from a her background as a psychologist trained in quantitative research methods
  • What qualitative research is and what it isn’t, and that it is more than just type of data collected
  • Qualitative research as a heterogeneous family of methodologies, each with different philosophical, historical and theoretical backgrounds and underpinnings- the challenge this diversity this can bring but also the richness and flexibility.
  • The different foundational assumptions of qualitative research (such as views on knowledge, reality and truth) and how these support, justify and inform the research methods (such as data collection, analysis sampling).
  • Locating qualitative research in context of quantitative research and evidence based practice – and what it offers and where it fits.
  • The role, value and contribution of qualitative research for generating knowledge about all aspects of pain and pain management.
So this was such an enjoyable discussion with Perri and the perfect opener of the series. Hearing Perri’s journey into qualitative research, her early challenges and frustrations and how she is now using qualitative approaches resonates with my own experiences and I’m sure many of you that have also had to grapple with initial discomfort of stepping into a different research paradigm.

It was great to share this and introduce some of the key aspects of qualitative research and also talk through valuable contribution that qualitative research can make to building a rounded and relevant evidence-base to support clinical practice.

Find Perri on Twitter @PerriTutelman

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What is The Words Matter Podcast with Oliver Thomson?

The Words Matter Podcast brings you insights, reflections and conversations focused on the latest evidence, theory, philosophy and practice of communication-focused healthcare.

Find out about the more tacit, 'softer' and personal side of clinical practice such as the role of philosophy, beliefs, behaviours, developing therapeutic relationships or the purposeful use of language with people experiencing pain from expert academics, clinicians and researchers from across the world and spanning the musculoskeletal disciplines. This podcast will help you reflect on your own current practice and inform and stimulate you to consider new ways of approaching your practice and patients, to create a better clinical experience and outcomes in people with musculoskeletal pain.

Hosted by Dr Oliver Thomson PhD, an osteopath and Associate Professor who is passionate about researching and educating clinicians on a revised narrative, communication and biopsychosocial approach to musculoskeletal therapy. If you like the podcast, subscribe and check out the online learning and resources at

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