Reflexivity and the challenges of collecting sensitive data in India: a research note

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    As health advertising researchers we become involved with a variety of health and well-being issues in order to advance social marketing research. Health advertising research involves mainly face-to-face encounters with participants using qualitative methodologies. This article explores the challenges a researcher of British origin faced undertaking fieldwork in India in an effort to collect qualitative data about breast cancer awareness (BCA) and prevention, a culturally taboo subject. Key obstacles included cultural barriers, research method assumptions and researcher resilience. Reflexivity has been recognized as a crucial stage in the process of generating knowledge via qualitative research processes. Thereby applying the critical lens of reflexivity, this article reflects upon the complexities of accessing Indian women (a fiercely private demographic) to participate in discussions about the sensitive topic of breast cancer. The results are discussed and recommendations from this researcher’s experience are presented as a resource to assist future qualitative health advertising inquiry
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages11
    JournalQualitative Research
    Early online date9 Feb 2019
    Publication statusEarly online - 9 Feb 2019


    • culture
    • email questionnaires
    • health advertising
    • India
    • reflexivity
    • sensitive data


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