University Of Tasmania

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A COVID-19-era rapid review: using Zoom and Skype for qualitative group research

Background and objectives: How do qualitative researchers collect meaningful and representative data, and engage in action research, when constrained by cost, distance or unforeseen events? In our work investigating health and older-person services in Tasmania, we had to confront this question in the context of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, redesigning our methodological approach to support participant engagement in qualitative group research to meet unpredictable pandemic isolation and ethics requirements.

Study type: Rapid review.

Methods: We searched three academic databases, limited to the past 5 years, cross-referencing to identify strategies to support online qualitative group research and assess the suitability of videoconferencing (specifically through Zoom and Skype) as a tool for participant engagement in qualitative group research.

Results: After removing duplicates found across the three databases, 866 articles were screened by title and abstract. After manually searching citations deemed to add to our understanding of online qualitative methods, 66 articles were included in this rapid review. The review found that the strengths of videoconferencing include its cost effectiveness and ability to reach disparate populations, but that several concerns must be addressed to capture its benefits: rapport, technical issues, planning, privacy and equity.

Conclusion: In response to the methodological challenge of engaging with participants without using routine face-to-face qualitative methods, our rapid review identified several advantages of using videoconferencing applications, such as Zoom or Skype, to facilitate research. However, to enhance data quality and the research experience for participants, consideration must be given to technical issues, planning, privacy and rapport. Underpinning these elements is consideration of equity of access.


Publication title

Public Health Research & Practice






School of Social Sciences


Sax Institute

Place of publication


Rights statement

© 2020 Boland et al. This article is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0) Licence, (, which allows others to redistribute, adapt and share this work non-commercially provided they attribute the work and any adapted version of it is distributed under the same Creative Commons licence terms.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Communication technologies, systems and services not elsewhere classified; Expanding knowledge in the information and computing sciences