The 'floating office analysis' approach was developed as an element in the methods I am using to analyse recordings of narrative interviews with HE students.
Carry out the interview via Skype or Phone
Listen and Transcribe
Listen and annotate
Break down text into small meaningful units and paste into spreadsheet rows
Develop codes using colour tags and identify themes
Reassemble rows from individual spreadsheets onto 'theme sheets' to organise a synthesis of themes across participants
Revisit audio, listen at whole story level to check for possible misinterpretation and any missed aspects. This is a checking stage during which I wanted to re-engage with the whole story of each narrative by listening to recordings in the same immersive way I would listen to a radio play.
Revisit spreadsheet analysis and augment with comments from this vocalised analysis.
Standing on the beach ready to set off I felt almost like this was skiving, that this might be an excuse to go and play rather than to study. I felt a sense of guilt despite being aware that this was a planned step on my journey and that there are many good reasons why it is important to escape the traditional office. Doctoral study is well known for being stressful, it is a high stakes process that is reliant on surviving a viva, failure can potentially mean 4-6 years of intensive effort leads to no qualification. Preserving personal well-being throughout this time is important.
Below is an edited extract from my third cycle of inquiry into analysing audio recordings of interviews while doing one of my favourite activities. In the extract I am reflecting on the experience rather than the actual interview data. Unfortunately on the day I did not notice a splash on my camera casing - hence the blurred centre.
I have only recently started to explore literature relating to the impact of stress on psychological and physiological well-being, some notes are included below.
Notes on literature
Hartig et al. (2003) identified that regular access to restorative natural environments can interrupt processes that reduce health and well-being. In 2004 the Chief Medical Officer in England identified that regular exercise of a minimum of 5 periods per week has a similar impact to treating moderate depression with antidepressant drugs. The physiological processes underpinning these changes are discussed by Epel, et al. (2009) and Epel (2009) who show that telomere shortening is linked to chronic stress exposure and depression. Telomeres are protective nucleoprotein structures which are located on projections present on eukaryotic chromosomes. Psychological stress causes excessive release of free radicals which leads to an imbalance against available antioxidant defences. This ‘oxidative stress’ damages telomeres. Cells with shortened telomeres are likely to show increased cell senescence (cell ageing and loss of the ability to replicate) and/or apoptosis (programmed cell death). This increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, vascular dementia and degenerative conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes and other lifestyle diseases with the potential to develop chronic states likely to provoke early mortality. Hezel, Bardeesy and Maser (2005) link positive states of mind to increases in telomere maintenance and the healthy functioning of eukaryotic chromosomes.
Mitchell and Popham (2008) discuss how contact with natural environments can reduce stress and blood pressure and that people living near natural green spaces are likely to have less health problems, and to live longer, than those living in highly urbanised environments. Depledge and Bird (2009) highlight that: “less than half of all men and a third of all women are active enough to support good health, creating additional vulnerability to cancers, heart disease, stroke and, mental and physical disability.” they also point out that both coastal areas and inland water bodies are particularly effective in stimulating people to be more active and that regular contact with natural environments improves health in particular mental illness such as depression and lifestyle diseases associated with obesity. The Natural England (2011) survey generated data that indicated that visits to the coast were more effective in generating stress-reducing, positive emotions than visits to natural or man-made green spaces, this is reinforced by Ashbullby et al. (2013) who point out that a strong body of evidence is emerging that blue spaces can be particularly beneficial for psychological wellbeing.
Wheeler et al. (2012) analysed 2001 census data and reported an “apparent gradient of increasing self-reported good health with proximity to the coast in England”. They also noted the effect possibly being strong enough to mitigate negative health effects due to low socio-economic status. The sample size was large; however, they note that despite a relatively limited evidence base acknowledgement of the effect in health policies is growing. Shortcomings include the fact that the data cannot acknowledge potential effects due to migration of richer and healthier people to coastal areas; however, they point out that the coast - health association appears to be greater in deprived areas. In 2013 White and some authors of the aforementioned publication carried out a panel survey in an attempt to counter potential weaknesses in Wheeler et al. (2012) by analysing self-reported health from individuals who have lived at varying distances from the coast in England. This data is longitudinal in structure but still had inherent weaknesses; however, it does include people who have and have not lived at varying distances from the coast during the period of study so enables consideration of other factors such as changes in employment status. In-line with findings from Wheeler et al. (2012) this study also found that individuals reported better health in years when they lived within 5 km of the coast. The effect was marginal in the sense that beyond the 5km proximity band there was little additional impact no matter how much further from the coast individuals lived. The authors acknowledge a potential benefit relationship and point out that further research is needed. These studies were based on self-reported perceptions of health, it would be interesting to carry out a longitudinal study based on medical health records to compare with perceived health although perceptions of benefit could be considered as relating to the well reported placebo effect in that if perceived benefit is part of a belief system it may have physiological and psychological impact regardless of the inherent properties of the source of that benefit.