The interviews


“The interview process is like a river. You can vary the course, but not stop the flow.”

This advice was given to the team who conducted a series of individual interviews with men and their partners, usually at their households.

We conceived of the interviews as guided life stories. Each interview opened with ‘tell me about some of the memorable events, whether positive or negative, that you’ve experienced in your life?’ and continued with open ended questions and non-directive prompts. Participants explored and recalled experiences, thoughts, feelings and aspirations relevant to reproductive life. We recorded up to three interviews with the men and up to two with their partners.

The team had guiding themes in their minds so there was some degree of consistency, though the emphasis was on what participants raised as relevant to them. A ‘time-line’ was created with participants, to help structure narratives and return to reproductive events in more detail, especially in the first interview.  

We incorporated reflection on reproductive and sexual health issues towards the end of the narrative interviews. Group discussions were the major forum for exploring perspectives on reproductive health issues. However, this exhibition explicitly focuses on the life stories we collected, cross-referenced for consistency with the group discussions.

The life story interviews were supported by a series of reflections provided by health workers from the local and district hospitals, herbalists, pastors and church elders on help-seeking topics raised in the life stories.

fieldwork in Karonga district rural malawi