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Exploring the Professional Perspective of Illicit Drug use among the Homeless Population


The purpose of this research study is to explore the professional prospects of illicit drug use among the homeless population.

Research Design

The research study employed a qualitative research method which used semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions. The study will explore sensitive phenomena such as homeless and illicit drug use. Qualitative interviews are more suitable for this study as the topic of study is quite sensitive. It is better to explain by using qualitative research design rather than quantitative one as quantitative research techniques will only provide the statistics of homeless people using illicit drugs, but their experiences of being homeless and the reasons of using illicit drugs could explore better with interviews. That’s why; qualitative research design was used in this research study.

Data Collection

Data collection comprised of a one-off qualitative semi-structured interview with four caseworkers from Northampton Association for Accommodation for Single Homeless (NAASH).

Importance of using semi-structured interviews

Semi-structured interviews are used to gather data based on the real-life experiences of a person. This way of data collection allows the researcher to have more detailed information related to the phenomena of interest.

Semi-structured interviews are those detailed interviews where the respondents need to answer pre-settled open-finished inquiries and along these lines are broadly utilised by various human services experts in their exploration. Semi-structured, top to bottom interviews are used widely as interviewing position conceivably with an individual or now and then even with a gathering. These sorts of interviews are led once just, with an individual or with a gathering and by and large cover the length of 30 min to over 60 minutes. Semi-structured interviews depend on semi-structured interview control, which is a schematic introduction of inquiries or points and should be investigated by the interviewer. To accomplish ideal utilisation of interview time, interview publications fill the beneficial need of investigating numerous respondents all the greater methodically and considerably and similarly to maintaining the interview targeting the coveted line of activity. The inquiries inside the interview direct comprise the centre inquiry and several related inquiries recognised with the focal inquiry, which, therefore, enhance inspire thru pilot checking out of the interview control. Keeping in thoughts the give up aim to have the interview statistics stuck all of the more correctly, recording of the interviews is considered as an appropriate selection, however, now and then a depend on the debate a number of the specialist and the respondent. Transcribed notes amid the interview are reasonably temperamental, and the scientist may also pass over some key focuses. The chronicle of the interview makes it much less worrying for the scientist to centre on the interview, and the verbal activates and on this manner empowers the transcriptionist to produce “verbatim transcript” of the interview.

How semi-structured interviews can be used.

Semi-structured interviews are used to explore the perspective and experience of respondents as it is the way in which the interviewee gets more time and space to answer the questions with great depth. And more probes can be made to explore more related to the specific ideas which help in understanding the concept and beliefs of a person related to a particular phenomenon. Research may be anticipated and visible as meticulous orderly endeavours to check out, have a look at and moreover rebuild the materials, hypotheses and programs. Research techniques mirror the manner to cope with coping with the exploration issue. By receiving the subjective system, a coming near specialist will tweak the pre-imagined ideas and also extrapolate the manner of wondering, dissecting and evaluating the problems from a top to bottom point of view. This could be completed using coordinated interviews or as problem-coordinated exchanges. Observational strategies are, in some cases, the supplemental way for confirming examination discoveries.


Purposive sampling will be used to have collected data from the participants. Participants were selected based on their experience in their job role. The age of the participants was 18 years to 55 years.

Sample size

Four caseworkers were requested to participate in the research as interviewees due to the volume of the data and the length of time for recording and transcribe of all the interviews.


The interviewees were approached according to the dates of the interviews according to the availability of participants. In this study, the interviews were held in Oasis House caseworkers’ office. The anonymity of participants was ensured using Pseudonyms to represent names. I gave the document containing consent form and the details of the research to the caseworkers and I also verbally explained the research. I verbally took their consent for recording their interviews. Then I started interviews which last for 45 minutes mostly.

My role in research

I work in Oasis House which is in partnership with NAASH, so permission will be sought via email requesting to research with the organisation. And also because I work there a pre-arrangement visit will be discussed with the manager in other to negotiate access.

Recording the Interviews

Data collected by interviews in which interview questions were structured to produce tailored responses from participants. Open-ended questions were used to enable participants to give their personal opinions.

Why digital voice recorder was used

The digital voice recorder was used to record the interviews in this research because of the length of the interview. As one interview was almost 45 minutes and it is very difficult to write or remember the interview as it is. Secondly, the interviewer has to note memos for regarding the expressions of the interviewees as these are of great importance too. And in reporting results, the exact words of the interviewees should be used as references of the explanation and elaboration.

Transcription of interviews

Interviews will be transcribed in the word document form for analysis as while listening to the interview; it is difficult to point out the required important points which an interviewee wants to explain in the interview. To understand the depth of the interview, it is necessary to transcribe it in the word form to pull out the details at every level for the analysis and reporting. It is easier to make points on the paper in front of the lines written which is important to use memo notes too (Jovchelovitah and Bauer, 2000).

Data Analysis

Given the qualitative data analysis, the thematic approach was used to identify the key concepts and themes (Bryman, 2016:584). Thematic analysis is one of the most common forms of analysis in qualitative research. It emphasises locating, investigating, and recording themes within data. Themes are patterns across data sets that are important to the description of a phenomenon and are associated with a specific research question.

Why choosing vivo coding approach

Computer software such as NVIVO for coding was not appropriate in this study, but VIVO coding approach was appropriate for the research (Given, 2008; Silverman, 2011)as coding by vivo approach is better for themes generation according to the human emotional and behavioural expectations. Vivo coding approach is more reliable because it is done by multiple readings of the data to ensure that no point of interest is left unchecked. Then themes were generated. Participant opinions were grouped to form the core and the broader classifications. This research process of data analysis was better than holding a preconceived hypothesis or assumptions with regards to research outcomes to have new concepts and to explore the other person’s experiences and understanding of the world (Bryman, 2016; Given, 2008).


Importance of ethics in this research study and ethical principles considered before the research design are: (BSC, 2015).

  • Ensure minimal risk
    • must apply the cost-benefit-ratio
    • risks unlikely to be greater than any encountered in the normal lifestyle
    • must minimise negative outcomes
  • Strategies
    • obtain advice from professionals
    • screen vulnerable participants
    • monitor unforeseen negative events
    • debrief participants about research
    • conduct long-term follow-ups
    • have counselling or support available

Four main ethical issues considered: One informed consent from participants. Purpose, objectives and advantages of signed consent forms should be clear to the researcher. Secondly, Personal details of respondents and any details revealed during the interviews. Thirdly, Participants Privacy is a concern. Last, Protection for participants due to the sensitive nature of the research such as protection from any stress or harm.

In the research, informed consent and the research details were shared with the participants both verbally and in written form. Confidentiality of the data was also ensured. As per the ethics, it was also ensured that the recorded interviews would also be destroyed after transcription and while recording the codes were used instead of names of the participants.


The researcher decided to interview caseworkers but not the homeless individuals because the homeless individuals are the people who experience but the caseworkers are handling them and observing other realities too instead of the just experiencing the issues. As the same size is small that is four caseworkers; the findings cannot be generalised due to the size of the samples (David and Sutton, 2011). It is not generalizable because the data is collected from one association.


Bryman, A. (2016) Social Research Methods. 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

BSC (2015) Statement of Ethics. British Society of Criminology [online]. Available from:

David, M. and Sutton, C. (2011) Social Research: An introduction. 2nd ed. London: SAGE Publication Ltd.

Davies, M. and Hughes, N. (2014) Doing a successful research project: Using qualitative or quantitative methods. 2nd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Gaskell, G. (2000) Individual and Group Interviewing. In: Bauer, M. W. and Gaskell, G. (ed.) Qualitative Researching With Text, Image and Sounds: A Practical Handbook. London: SAGE Publication Ltd, pp38-56.

Given, L. M. (2008) The SAGE encyclopedia of qualitative research methods. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publication, Inc.

Have, P. T. (2004) Understanding Qualitative Research and Ethnomethodology. London: SAGE Publications.

Jovchelovitch, S. and Bauer, M. W. (2000) Narrative Interviewing. In: Bauer, M. W. and Gaskell, G. (ed.) Qualitative Researching With Text, Image and Sounds: A Practical Handbook. London: SAGE Publication Ltd, pp57-74.

Kumar, R. (2014) Research Methodology: A step-by-step guide for beginners. 4th ed. London: SAGE Publication Ltd

Silverman, D. (2011) Interpreting qualitative data. 4th ed. London: SAGE Publication Ltd.



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