Using text-based vignettes in qualitative social work research

Text-based vignettes are widely used within qualitative social work research yet there is little guidance on how to construct and integrate them into the research process. This article discusses the uses, benefits, and limitations of written vignettes as part of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with social workers and related professionals. It provides clear guidelines on how to design a vignette. This includes the choice of scenario, characteristics of the protagonist, type of vignette, research setting, length, vignettes in semi-structured interviews and pre-testing. Text-based vignettes have been successfully used in social work research on six continents in a variety of research contexts including single context, comparative, cross-sectional, longitudinal and replication studies. Written vignettes are a useful tool to elicit (professional) values, attitudes, and decision-making processes in a time efficient manner that produces focused, in-depth knowledge without the need to use real practice examples that could potentially include sensitive data or breach confidentiality. Vignettes have been used to explore a wide range of topics including but not limited to adult safeguarding, care planning, child protection and multi-agency working together. There is some debate whether vignette responses mirror real life actions. The value of vignette data goes beyond documenting real-world decision making. It can uncover tacit social work knowledge and unquestioned beliefs to show how they interplay in decision making.
Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Bain, K. (2024). Using text-based vignettes in qualitative social work research. Qualitative Social Work, 23(1), 165-178. © The Author(s) 2023. DOI: Any re-use terms of this Accepted Manuscript are restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses.
Uncontrolled Keywords: vignette, semi-structured interview, qualitative research, social work, focus group
Subjects: 300 Social sciences 300 Social sciences > 360 Social problems & services; associations
Department: School of Social Sciences and Professions
Depositing User: Katrin Bain
Date Deposited: 02 May 2023 08:48
Last Modified: 15 Jan 2024 10:47