Blurred Researcher–Participant Boundaries in Critical Research: Do Non-clinicians and Clinicians Experience Similar Dual-Role Tensions?

  • Jean Hay-SmithEmail author
  • Melanie Brown
  • Lynley Anderson
  • Gareth J. Treharne


Boundaries between research and clinical practice blur in health research conducted by clinician-researchers. We describe a typology, of clinician-researcher dual-role tensions, with two overarching catalysts: (1) acting as a clinical resource for patient-participants and (2) forming researcher–participant relationships mirroring clinician–patient relationships. Using the typology as an analytic template we explored blurred boundaries in five illustrative, non-clinician, critical studies. Like clinician-researchers, critical researchers act in ways that promote rapport and relationships with their participants, which can blur boundaries. While clinician-researchers see tension between clinician and researcher roles, we ask what roles critical researchers attempt to distinguish: ethically minded citizen and researcher, socially conscious community member and researcher, or friend and researcher? Anticipating catalysts of dual-role tension may assist critical researchers in planning and conducting robust research.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Hay-Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Melanie Brown
    • 1
  • Lynley Anderson
    • 1
  • Gareth J. Treharne
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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