Observational studies in health professional education research


  • Joanna Tai Deakin University (CRADLE)
  • Juan Fischer Deakin University (CRADLE)
  • Christy Noble The University of Queensland




observational studies, qualitative research, methodology, research methods, ethnography


Observational studies are not uncommon in health professional education and are frequently associated with ethnography as a methodology. This article aims to provide an overview of how observational studies are used in health professional education research. Firstly, we explore some ways in which observational methods can be used in association with a range of qualitative research stances, and then we focus on the practicalities of undertaking observational research. Next, we use two case studies to illustrate some of the key decision points when designing observational research. Finally, we collate resources and consider the implications of contemporary world events on observational research.


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How to Cite

Tai, J., Fischer, J., & Noble, C. (2021). Observational studies in health professional education research. Focus on Health Professional Education: A Multi-Professional Journal, 22(1), 94–111. https://doi.org/10.11157/fohpe.v22i1.536



Focus on Methodology