Reflections on Using a Flash Card Activity for Studying Social Representations of Sexually Transmitted Infections

Mapp, F; (2017) Reflections on Using a Flash Card Activity for Studying Social Representations of Sexually Transmitted Infections. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 16 (1). p. 1609406917703741. ISSN 1609-4069 DOI:

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Image elicitation methods generating visual data are becoming more common in social science research to generate rich and detailed findings and access topics using nonverbal approaches. Current elicitation techniques using photos and drawing methods have limited application for studying sexually transmitted infections (STIs). To address this, I describe a novel elicitation method?the flash card activity?which involves ranking STI flash cards according to predetermined themed continua. The activity was embedded within semistructured interviews focusing on social representations of STIs and experiences and meanings of STI symptoms and care-seeking behavior with 27 participants. Participants were recruited from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles that took place in Britain 2010?2012. This article reports on the methodological findings of implementing the flash card activity. The activity generated linked verbal and visual data that were more fluent, cohesive, and diverse than other interview data and disrupted normative accounts of infections, enabling participants to reflect on the formation and influences on their social representations. Acceptability of the flash card activity was high, although there were feasibility issues when either language comprehension or time were limited. There is scope for further methodological innovation and adaptation for different topics.

Item Type: Article
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Public Health and Policy > Dept of Social and Environmental Health Research


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