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Key Informant Interviews

Key informant interviews are in-depth qualitative interviews of a small number of individuals (15-35) with direct knowledge or experience about a particular topic. The goal of conducting key informant interviews is to obtain descriptions of insights, perceptions, and experiences from a wide range of people.

far fa-dollar-sign fa-sm Budget (e.g. personnel, space, equipment) Low Medium High far fa-user-clock Time per interaction I expect to engage stakeholders for... An hour or less Half a day A full day far fa-calendar-check Number of interactions I expect to interact with stakeholders... 1-2 times Appx. 5 times 10+ times Engagement Purposes far fa-scrubber Identify and explore new perspectives or understanding far fa-scrubber Identify which topics are most important to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Develop research questions relevant to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Select outcomes and measures that matter to stakeholders far fa-scrubber Investigate best ways to successfully implement a study, based on stakeholder insights far fa-clock Time Frame

2-3 months to prepare; 30 minutes-2 hours to conduct

fal fa-tasks-alt Workload LIGHT MEDIUM HEAVY
Appropriate Applications More useful for: far fa-scrubber Generating qualitative, descriptive information far fa-scrubber Understanding motivations, behaviors, and perspectives far fa-scrubber Understanding the "why" and "how" far fa-scrubber Helping to interpret quantitative findings far fa-scrubber Eliciting in-depth responses far fa-scrubber Capturing feelings/emotions far fa-scrubber Collecting information specific to individuals far fa-scrubber Discussing sensitive topics far fa-scrubber Generating suggestions and recommendations to inform decision-making Less useful for: far fa-scrubber Collecting data from a large number of people far fa-scrubber Producing findings generalizable to the larger population far fa-scrubber When quantitative data is needed Key Characteristics Resources Needed fas fa-money-bill-waveMoney far fa-scrubber Participant incentives far fa-scrubber Reimbursement for travel far fa-scrubber Childcare (if needed) fas fa-paperclipMaterials and Resources far fa-scrubber Neutral and accessible meeting place far fa-scrubber Tape recorder far fa-scrubber Transcription services (if using tape recorder) far fa-scrubber Notepad and pen fas fa-usersPersonnel far fa-scrubber ~15-35 participants far fa-scrubber 1-2 individuals with interview skills and experience far fa-scrubber Notetaker (if not using tape recorder) far fa-scrubber Qualitative analyst far fa-scrubber Optional: Qualitative data analysis software such as ATLAS.ti How To Determine what study questions (~5) you want your key informant interviews to help you answer. Identify one or two people with interview experience who ideally are also knowledgeable about your topic of interest. Review existing literature related to your study questions. This may include published and unpublished studies, statistical data, and community records and documents. Use the questions from step 1 to help you formulate your interview guide. Your key informant interview guide should consist of 10 to 12 questions total. The guide should allow for free discussion, and should accommodate follow-up questions and probing.
  1. You may need to develop multiple interview guides if you are interviewing multiple stakeholder groups.
Consider what incentives you will use, if any.
    This could be a monetary incentive, lunch and refreshments, a future training opportunity, or an item they can take home.
Develop a consent form for participants and seek IRB approval if needed. Select key informants
  1. Define your population of interest based on your study questions.
  2. Create a list of potential organizations, groups, or individuals that can help you gather information about your target population and study questions. Try to make this list as diverse as possible, including groups and individuals from different sectors and backgrounds.
  3. Review and narrow down your list, identifying 1 or 2 people from each group or sector whose knowledge and experience are relevant to your study questions.
  4. Be sure to include a few back-up interviewees in your list since not all those you invite to participate will be willing or able to.
Think about where you might conduct the interviews.
  1. Will you be conducting the interviews face-to-face, over the phone, or virtually using a computer software such as Zoom or Skype?
  2. Consider where your participants are located (e.g., Do they live in a different state? A phone or virtual interview may be ideal) as well as their ability to access and use technology (e.g., Are they part of an older generation that may be less comfortable navigating a computer software.
  3. If you will be conducting the interviews in person, choose a neutral location that is easy for your participants to access.
Contact each participant to schedule the interview and finalize day, time, and location.
  1. Be careful not to schedule too many interviews in one day
Make sure that your tape recorders (if using) have new batteries, have been tested, and are functioning. Conduct the key informant interviews.
  1. Begin with a couple of minutes of general conversation to develop rapport with the participant and help them feel comfortable before diving into your questions. In addition, thank the participant and remind them of the purpose of the interview. If you are recording the interview, remind them of this and have them sign the consent form. You can also answer any questions the participant may have at this time.
  2. Conclude each interview by thanking the participant, providing them with their incentive (if using) and asking if they have any final questions. Let them know how the information you have collected from them will be used and thank them for their time.
Take some time immediately after the interview to write down additional notes or observations so that they are fresh in your mind. Analyze the data.
  1. Upload any recordings and have them transcribed.
  2. Someone skilled in qualitative analysis should code the notes and transcripts for themes and patterns.
  3. Have multiple people review the results independently, and then compare interpretations and conclusion.
Share the results with participants
  1. This can be done via phone, snail mail, or email.
  2. Put your results to use.
Tips Interviewing fewer than 15 people may make it difficult to demonstrate the validity of your findings. It may also make it challenging to identify overarching themes. If using a tape recorder, it may be useful to have a backup one also recording in case one fails or the recording is accidentally deleted. Variations Key informant interviews can be collected in person or over the phone, as well virtually using software like Zoom or Skype. Considerations Key informant interviews can be subject to bias if only people from a particular group or background are interviewed. They can also be subject to interviewer bias if the interviewer is partial towards a preconceived response and frames questions or probes based on this partiality. Read more about interviewer bias here: Reaching and scheduling interviews can be challenging with busy and/or hard-to-reach individuals. A plan for protecting interviewee confidentiality should be put into place and should include protocol such as: 1) Using a code in place of the participant's name or other identifying information, with a separate list stored securely separate from interview notes. 2) Keeping all responses in final reports anonymous and free of any identifying information. Examples References / Other Resources

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University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus

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