The liminal and the parallax: Qualitative Health Research

J. I. MacArtney, A. Broom, E. Kirby, P. Good, and J. Wootton (2017). The parallax and the liminal. The Journal of Qualitative Health Research, 27(5), 623-633.

According to MacArtney, Broom, Kirby, Good, and Wootton (2017), changes in palliative care may imply a shift in mindset from one of life-prolongation to one of life-improvement. Palliative care is provided to patients with life-limiting conditions in dedicated outpatient departments as well as by other medical experts. Because it is about life and death, this type of experience is considered liminal in nature. The authors conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 palliative care outpatient departments in Australia and discovered that it was regarded as living and dying at the same time. However, MacArtney et al. (2017) describe this condition as “parallax experience”, which entails understanding the realities while recognizing the importance of being manifold.

MacArtney et al. (2017) used the interview technique, a qualitative research design to investigate the respondents’ reflection on different experiences of palliative care and how it influenced their understanding of the end of life. Essentially, the article used semi-structured interviews to respond to the research questions. This qualitative design is appropriate in this case, because it presented useful and detailed information regarding respondents’ experiences of palliative care (Tanggaard, 2009). Based on the article, ethical issues were addressed in terms of getting approval from the university’s human research ethics committee and the ethics board of the specialist palliative care department.

However, if the authors had used quantitative research design, the article could be different. For instance, the study is simply exploratory. Hence, if the quantitative design is used, it would help the researchers quantify the experiences of participants in palliative care by producing numerical information. Furthermore, if the quantitative approach is applied, the study would be more structured in a way that measurable information will be utilized to convey facts and uncover trends in patients’ experiences in palliative care.


MacArtney, J. I., Broom, A., Kirby, E., Good, P., & Wootton, J. (2017). The liminal and the parallax. Qualitative Health Research, 27(5), 623-633.

Tanggaard, L. (2009). The research interview as a dialogical context for the production of social life and personal narratives. Qualitative Inquiry, 15(9), 1498–1515.

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