A meta-method analysis of qualitative research examining positive youth development through sport


For this study we examined the methods used in qualitative studies of positive youth development (PYD) through sport. A meta-study comprised of four components: meta-method analysis, meta-theory analysis, and meta-data analysis was conducted, resulting in a meta-synthesis (Paterson, Thorne, Canam, & Jillings, 2001). Results of the meta-method analysis are presented. We used a custom-designed keyword search with a qualitative filter to search databases. Initial searches returned 1,089 citations. Following removal of duplicates, gray literature, reviews, and other irrelevant papers, 455 abstracts were retained. Abstract screening yielded 129 articles that were subjected to full text review. Fifty-nine qualitative articles were retained. Studies had a combined total sample of 1,999 participants, comprised of 342 children (aged 8-12 years), 1,216 adolescents (aged 13-18 years), 137 parents, 240 coaches, and 64 other adults. Studies were conducted in eleven different countries and focused on school, after-school, competitive sport, and summer camp settings. Interviews were used in 52 of the studies, and 34 studies used multiple data collection techniques, including journals, surveys, and participant observation. Methodologies most frequently used were case study (7), general qualitative (6), grounded theory (5), and phenomenological (4). Named methodologies were not reported in thirty-one studies. Forty-six studies reported validity techniques (e.g. rapport building, triangulation, and reflexivity). Strengths across studies included the use of purposeful sampling techniques and checks establishing analytical validity. More use of named methodologies may improve the sophistication of qualitative research in this area.

Acknowledgments: Kacey C. Neely, Hayley DeBeaudrap, and Nicholas L. Holt