Conducting Joint Interviews With Couples: Ethical and Methodological Challenges

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Scholars have recently begun to discuss joint interviewing from a methodological perspective, generally presenting a favorable view of this mode of interviewing. In the present article, the author draws on her experiences with interviewing obstructive sleep apnea patients and their partners to shed further light on the methodological and ethical challenges of joint interviews. Specifically, it is shown that joint interviews may become a site in which one partner silences the other and enacts symbolic violence, with the interviewer as unwilling abettor, or alternatively may facilitate passivity. Joint interviewing may therefore prevent researchers from giving an equal voice to both partners, resulting in partial and fragmented data. In addition, the joint approach may generate tension between members of the couple and harm the quality of relationships, thus contravening the researcher’s commitment to non-maleficence. The author points to a few possible solutions and suggests interviewing social partners as an alternative to couples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)844-854
Number of pages11
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © The Author(s) 2018.


  • Israel
  • ethics, moral perspectives
  • joint interviewing
  • methodology
  • qualitative
  • sleep, sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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