Development and use of research vignettes to collect qualitative data from healthcare professionals: a scoping review Academic Article uri icon

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  • ObjectivesTo clarify the definition of vignette-based methodology in qualitative research and to identify key elements underpinning its development and utilisation in qualitative empirical studies involving healthcare professionals.DesignScoping review according to the Joanna Briggs Institute framework and Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Extension for Scoping Reviews guidelines.Data sourcesElectronic databases: Academic Search Complete, CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE, PsycINFO and SocINDEX (January 2000–December 2020).Eligibility criteriaEmpirical studies in English or French with a qualitative design including an explicit methodological description of the development and/or use of vignettes to collect qualitative data from healthcare professionals. Titles and abstracts were screened, and full text was reviewed by pairs of researchers according to inclusion/exclusion criteria.Data extraction and synthesisData extraction included study characteristics, definition, development and utilisation of a vignette, as well as strengths, limitations and recommendations from authors of the included articles. Systematic qualitative thematic analysis was performed, followed by data matrices to display the findings according to the scoping review questions.ResultsTen articles were included. An explicit definition of vignettes was provided in only half the studies. Variations of the development process (steps, expert consultation and pretesting), data collection and analysis demonstrate opportunities for improvement in rigour and transparency of the whole research process. Most studies failed to address quality criteria of the wider qualitative design and to discuss study limitations.ConclusionsVignette-based studies in qualitative research appear promising to deepen our understanding of sensitive and challenging situations lived by healthcare professionals. However, vignettes require conceptual clarification and robust methodological guidance so that researchers can systematically plan their study. Focusing on quality criteria of qualitative design can produce stronger evidence around measures that may help healthcare professionals reflect on and learn to cope with adversity.


  • Tremblay, Dominique
  • Turcotte, Annie
  • Touati, Nassera
  • Poder, Thomas G
  • Kilpatrick, Kelley
  • Bilodeau, Karine
  • Roy, Mathieu
  • Richard, Patrick O
  • Lessard, Sylvie
  • Giordano, Émilie

publication date

  • January 2022