Iterative Method of Analysis of 90 Interviews From Two Communities: Understanding How Sudbury and Sarnia Reduced Occupational Exposures and Industrial Pollution

Kramer DM, Haynes E, McMillan K, Lightfoot NE, Holness DL. SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2. 2018.

The communities of Sarnia and Sudbury in Ontario are one-industry towns: petrochemical in Sarnia and nickel mining in Sudbury. They have high rates of cancer and other chronic disease thought to be related to occupational and environmental exposures. The two communities have made significant changes to reduce their pollution and workplace exposures. How the different aspects of the society were engaged in the change process and why these communities made these changes were the focus of this inquiry. We hoped to gain lessons for other communities also affected by industrial pollution. A total of 90 intensive, semi-structured interviews took place with industry, workers and union representatives, community members, political decision-makers, and academics. Questions were based on themes identified by a pre-identified conceptual framework. Data collection also included the published research and gray literature. A nine-step, thematic-driven, iterative, matrix-method of deductive and inductive analysis was used to analyze the data. The method included listening to and making notes from the recorded interviews, creating a matrix by groups and by themes, coding of the transcripts with NVivo10, creating “mind-maps” to get a holistic understanding of the interaction of the social forces, and discussing and reflecting on the findings from the deductive and inductive reasoning as a research team. In this way, we achieved a compelling interpretation of the context, the forces of change, and the dominant players. The conceptual framework evolved to reflect this understanding.