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The Use of Closing Questions in Qualitative Research: Results of a Web-Based Survey

imageBackground Scarce and differing reasons for including closing questions in qualitative research exist, but how data generated from these questions are used remains uncertain. Objectives The purpose of the study was to understand if and how researchers use closing questions in qualitative research, specifically the research questions were: (a) “Why do qualitative researchers include or exclude closing questions during interviews?” and (b) “How do qualitative researchers use data from closing questions?” Methods A qualitative descriptive design using a single, asynchronous, web-based, investigator-designed survey containing 14 items was used to collect data. Convenience and snowball sampling were used to recruit participants. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and qualitative content analysis. Codes were developed from the qualitative data. Subcategories were derived from similar codes, and these subcategories were further scrutinized and were used to create broad categories. Results The number of respondents per question ranged from 76 to 99; most identified nursing and sociology as their academic disciplines, lived in the United States, and were involved in qualitative research for 1–10 years. Data, the interview, the interviewee, and the interviewer were broad categories to emerge as reasons for including closing questions. Only one respondent reported a reason for excluding closing questions. The uses of closing question data were described in four broad categories: analysis, data, the interview guide, and inquiry. Discussion Researchers frequently included closing questions in qualitative studies. The reasons for including these questions and how data are used vary, and support limited previously published literature. One unique reason, adding “new breath” to the interview, emerged. Study findings can aid qualitative researchers in deciding whether to include closing questions.