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Decolonizing Qualitative Research With Rural People With Disabilities: Lessons From a Cross-Cultural Health Systems Study

Kate Sherry, Eve Madeleine Duncan, Steve Reid

2020 South Africa, Africa

Decolonization of research is nowhere more pressing than in post-apartheid South Africa, where cross-cultural encounters characterize every aspect of society. The health system plays a critical role in realizing the rights of marginalized populations, particularly rural communities and people with disabilities. However, cultural divides between service users and health care workers render health care provision unexpectedly complex. Such divides likewise obscure the meanings embedded in qualitative data, rendering research interpretations challenging. A study of the engagement between rural isiXhosa-speaking people with disabilities and primary health care workers was conducted by the first author, a White English-speaking female health care worker, in partnership with the second author, a Xhosa male research implementer. Ethnographic and narrative methods were used to create an embedded case study of 11 households of people with disabilities. Lessons on conducting ethical and culturally congruent research with this population are presented, important limitations in the qualitative paradigm raised, and alternative stances explored

decolonization, qualitative paradigm, primary health care, disability, rural, South Africa