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Individual Experiences of Covid-19. A Thematic Analysis of Interview Data (Thesis Sample)


The task was to write a section of a thesis paper. I was to discuss methods of data collection, analysis, and results. In this paper, there is a thematic analysis of qualitative data provided.


Individual Experiences of Covid-19. A Thematic Analysis of Interview Data
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Individual Experiences of Covid-19. A Thematic Analysis of Interview Data
Data sources
This study analyses qualitative data that was obtained from an interview on individual experiences of Covid-19. Thematic analysis, similar to Braun and Clarke (2006), was used. For this research, six participants were interviewed. The participants were living in the United Kingdom and employed. Also, the participants had family members and friends. For confidentiality purposes, pseudonyms are used. A purposive sampling technique, consistent with Patton (2002), was employed. This ensured awareness of the research topic. The participants were sent emails requesting them to volunteer in the research. Participants who were interested in the study were invited to an interview. The participants received a consent form and information sheet. The information sheet explained the aim of the study, usage of data provided, and withdrawal from the study. Before the interview, informed consent was obtained from the respondents.
Data generation
The interview schedule was created, and pilot interviews were conducted to ensure actual data will be retrieved. The design was developed in consistency with Broom (2005). The interview schedule presented an opening that explained the objectives of the study, motivated the participants to answer questions, and indicated the duration of the interview. Also, it had a body that explored a list of open-ended questions that guided into each theme. Closed questions were restricted (Prescott, 2011). The closing of the interview schedule covered the main issues presented during the interview and thanked the participants for their time. Each interview was 30 minutes. The interviews were conducted face-face at the university, and each session audio recorded. Being semi-structured interviews, participants were allowed to share their experiences rather than asked specific questions (Drever, 1995; Evans et al., 2018; Smith, 1995). The recorded interviews were transcribed by selected transcribers. Pauses, emphasis, and laughs that occurred during the interview were omitted from the transcripts. Thereafter, the transcripts were proofread. The Ethics Committee of the British Psychological Society approved the study. The use of pseudonyms ensured confidentiality. The transcriptions were kept anonymous, and recorded interviews were kept in a password-protected computer.
Data analysis
In accordance with the theoretical framework provided by Braun and Clarke (2006), a thematic analysis of data collected was done. First, the transcripts were read and re-read carefully to identify meaningful patterns and texts significant to the research topic. This provided insight and appreciation to each interview transcript. As suggested by Ezzy (2002), relevant notes are written on the margins of the transcripts. A concept called “open coding” (Ezzy, 2002; Murphy et al., 1998; Joffe, 2012). At this point, the data are divided into smaller parts, put into respective categories, and conceptualised, thus allowing patterns to be identified and categorized into related groups. The next phase involved analysing the notes again in the margin of the transcripts to further establish themes occurring in the interviews. This process was referred to as "axial coding" by Ezzy (2002). Axial coding involved the act of going beyond writing and analysing notes to allowing observations from individuals and colleagues (Strauss and Corbin, 1998). Having identified relevant themes, related comments from the interview were obtained to further enhance the theme. The next step involved "selective coding," where the data was further refined, and patterns brought together to develop themes and sub-themes (Ezzy 2002: Vaismoradi et al., 2013). This process led to a coordinated picture of the individual experiences of Covid-19 (Bazeley, 2009). Finally, the themes were reviewed with knowledge of the available literature to ensure a consistent pattern in the context of the study.
The experiences of the participants were analysed and informed by the essentialist/realist epistemology, which "theorizes motivations, experience, and meaning in a straightforward way" (Braun and Clarke, 2006). From the interview, a number of themes emerged in relation to individual experiences of Covid-19. The analysis produced seven themes. These themes were: (I) the workplace did not provide support, (II) lockdown had a negative impact on friendships, (III) lockdown had a negative impact on mental health, (IV) people made good use of the exercise option, (V) the government could have improved mental health during the lockdown, (VI) the government could have taken action sooner, (VII) media coverage of Covid-19 was poorly handled.
Theme I: The workplace did not provide support
The failure of the workplace to provide the necessary support to the employees was mentioned by the participant. This was evident throughout the data, both at the “manifest” and “latent levels” (Boyatzis, 1998). This was strongly expressed in relation to the questions asking about the working situation and how it has been affected by the pandemic. For instance, one respondent stated:
IVR: “I don’t think work concentrated enough as they should on staff well-being.” (Extract 1)
IVR: “It’s essentially no support then.” (Extract 2)
In Extract 1, the participant is not contented by the action of the employee at the workplace to provide support to the workers. Besides, a similar issue is portrayed by another participant who claimed there was no support at the workplace (Extract 2). In addition, another participant stated that the overall well-being of the workers was neglected. Having established neglect of the staff and expressed disappointments by the participants, it is possible to consider that the workplace did not provide support to the workers during the pandemic.
Theme II: Lockdown had a negative impact on friendships
During pandemics, human interactions are greatly affected. As a way to curb the transmission of Covid-19, the government imposed total lockdowns where physical interactions were limited greatly. This resulted in poor social interactions that affected friendships. For example, two participants responded:
IVR: “You weren’t allowed to go out as much, friendships did suffer.” (Extract 3)
IVR: “Sometimes friendships were fractured.” (Extract 4)
In Extract 3, the participant expressed that the restrictions limited social interactions affecting the relationship with friends. Moreover, the respondent in Extract 4 stated that friendships were broken as a consequence of Covid-19. In contrast, another participant stated:
127 IVR: “It hasn’t affected them personally, it’s just affected our lifestyle. You can’t go out or meet up with any of them.” (Extract 5)
In as much as the relationship between the participant and friends was not affected, the participant revealed that their lifestyle was affected since physical interaction with the friends was impossible during the pandemic. Consequently, Covid-19 resulted in a negative impact on friendship.
Theme III: Lockdown had a negative impact on the mental health
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as the “state where individuals are aware of their abilities”, do tasks efficiently, deal with stresses surrounding life, and can contribute to society (Bertolote, 2008). Therefore, mental health is a strong determinant of the overall health of humans. Public health directives, such as social distancing, self-isolation, and limited personal freedoms, contributed to poor mental health and psychological stress, for instance, depression (Pfefferbaum et al., 2020). One participant remarked:
149 IVE: “I think it’s got worse as it’s gone, you can’t go out and
150 everybody feels down and depressed.” (Extract 6)
Choice of words such as "feels down" and "depressed" reveal the poor state of mental health. Besides, the words strengthen the idea that the mental health situation is deteriorating further. When asked a similar question, another participant stated:
IVE: “Suffered I think, yeah. I think a lot of people felt that lockdown was hard.” (Extract 7)
Using the word "suffered," the participant intends to emphasise how mental health has been affected during the pandemic. These findings reveal that the participant's mental health was greatly affected during the lockdown. Covid-19 has aggravated mental health, leading to emotional distress, such as increased depression and psychiatric disorders (Ho et al., 2020; Moreno et al., 2020).
Theme IV: People made good use of the exercise option
With Covid-19 taking a toll on health, people became aware of the importance of taking care of their health. Physical activities, such as walking and outdoor exercise, were implemented in their routines. When asked about the number of times they included the exercise option, the participants responded:
IVE: “Pretty much like every day.” (Extract 8)
IVE: “Every day, about an hour a day.” (Extract 9)
IVE: “Every day, about an hour a day.” (Extract 10)
Choice of words such as “pretty much” affirms the participants to be exercising almost every day. Additionally, another participant included th...

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