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Navigating nuances of language and meaning: Challenges of cross-language ethnography involving Shona speakers living with schizophrenia


Chidarikire, S and Cross, M and Skinner, I and Cleary, M, Navigating nuances of language and meaning: Challenges of cross-language ethnography involving Shona speakers living with schizophrenia, Qualitative Health Research, 28, (6) pp. 927-938. ISSN 1049-7323 (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© The Author(s) 2018

DOI: doi:10.1177/1049732318758645


For people living with schizophrenia, their experience is personal and culturally bound. Focused ethnography enables researchers to understand people’s experiences in-context, a prerequisite to providing person-centered care. Data are gathered through observational fieldwork and in-depth interviews with cultural informants. Regardless of the culture, ethnographic research involves resolving issues of language, communication, and meaning. This article discusses the challenges faced by a bilingual, primary mental health nurse researcher when investigating the experiences of people living with schizophrenia in Zimbabwe. Bilingual understanding influenced the research questions, translation of a validated survey instrument and interview transcripts, analysis of the nuances of dialect and local idioms, and confirmation of cultural understanding. When the researcher is a bilingual cultural insider, the insights gained can be more nuanced and culturally enriched. In cross-language research, translation issues are especially challenging when it involves people with a mental illness and requires researcher experience, ethical sensitivity, and cultural awareness.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:bilingual research, cross-language research, focused ethnography, language translation, mental health nursing, health research, qualitative research, schizophrenia, Zimbabwe
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Nursing
Research Field:Mental health nursing
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Provision of health and support services
Objective Field:Mental health services
UTAS Author:Chidarikire, S (Dr Shep Chidarikire)
UTAS Author:Cross, M (Dr Merylin Cross)
UTAS Author:Cleary, M (Professor Michelle Cleary)
ID Code:124512
Year Published:2018
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Health Sciences
Deposited On:2018-02-23
Last Modified:2019-11-21

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