Debrief Reports to Expedite the Impact of Qualitative Research: Do They Accurately Capture Data from In-depth Interviews?

  • Jane M. SimoniEmail author
  • Kristin Beima-Sofie
  • K. Rivet Amico
  • Sybil G. Hosek
  • Mallory O. Johnson
  • Barbara S. Mensch
Original Paper


“Debrief reports” (DRs) use structured forms to capture key concepts from in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. They are completed by interviewers and rapidly disseminated to key team members to facilitate identification of potential problems with study procedures, recruitment, or participant engagement and to inform critical adjustments, which can be especially pertinent in intervention studies. Their reliability and validity have yet to be formally evaluated. To assess the accuracy of DRs in capturing key content, raters analyzed a random sub-sample of 20 pairs of de-identified transcripts and their linked DRs from the VOICE-D trial. Analyses generally supported the accuracy of DRs; however, pertinent information from transcripts was occasionally missed or recorded with discrepancies or lack of detail. Longer transcripts and DR sections describing complex topic areas were more likely to involve discrepancies. Recommendations are offered for further research and optimizing the use of DRs.


Debrief reports HIV/AIDS Medication adherence Africa Qualitative data 


Los debrief reports (DR) son recursos emergentes, pero no examinados, que utilizan cuestionarios estructurados para capturar temas importantes, derivada de entrevistas en profundidad y discusiones de grupos focales. Se completan por los entrevistadores y son diseminados rápidamente a los miembros de investigación, para facilitar la identificación de problemas potenciales en cuanto al procedimiento de estudios, el proceso de reclutamiento, o el nivel de participación de los participantes, para que los investigadores puedan informarles de cambios critícales. Esto es útil para desarrollar estudios de intervenciones. Su fiabilidad y validez aún no han sido evaluadas formalmente. Para evaluar la precisión de los DRs en la captura de contenido clave, los evaluadores analizaron una sub-muestra de 20 pares de transcripciones sin identificadas y sus DR vinculados del ensayo VOICE-D. Los análisis generalmente apoyaron la precisión de los DRs, sin embargo, a veces la información pertinente de las transcripciones fue omitida, o escrita con errores, o escrita sin detalles. Las transcripciones más largas, y secciones de los DRs que describen áreas temáticas complejas, eran más probables de involucrar discrepancias. Se ofrecen recomendaciones para más investigación y para optimizar la implementación de los DRs.



We thank Miriam Hartmann, Ariana Katz, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Ariane van der Straten for patiently answering our questions and the Microbicides Trial Network for access to the data.


This work was supported in part by the Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination (HANC) which is funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, grant number UM1 AI068614, entitled Leadership Group for a Global HIV Vaccine Clinical Trials (Office of HIV/AIDS Network Coordination) with additional support from the National Institute of Mental Health. The MTN 003-D study was designed and implemented by the Microbicide Trials Network (MTN) funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases through individual grants (UM1AI068633, UM1AI068615 and UM1AI106707), with co-funding from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health, all components of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Global HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of Health Behavior Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Stroger Hospital of Cook CountyChicagoUSA
  5. 5.University of California, San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  6. 6.Population CouncilNew YorkUSA

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