The Application of Mindfulness Meditation in Mental Health: Can Protocol Analysis Help Triangulate a Grounded Theory Approach?
The methods of Grounded Theory and Protocol Analysis were triangulated in a study of mindfulness meditation as used by participants with a history of depression. Protocol analysis is an empiricist qualitative method (with an element of quantification) that has received little attention as a source of triangulation with other qualitative approaches such as grounded theory. Protocol analysis was applied to data collected using a "talk aloud" technique applied to a period of instruction-based meditation. The reliability of a simple coding system was encouraging and suggested that task-related mental activity can be coded at a simple descriptive level. The results of protocol analysis were discussed in the light of categories derived from a grounded theory account described elsewhere. The degree of correspondence and mutual support was striking in two ways. First, participants' experiences were mirrored in the two methods. Second, several categories from the theory were elucidated and exemplified by the protocol results. Some of the potential difficulties of comparing results from different methods were discussed. An additional limitation was that further quantification of the protocols' code categories was not possible. However, it was suggested that testable hypotheses could be derived from future theory development so as to use protocol analysis as a more formal test of the theory.
protocol analysis; triangulation; mental health; grounded theory