Improving reporting of meta-ethnography: The eMERGe reporting guidance

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  • Emma F France
    University of Stirling
  • Maggie Cunningham
    University of Stirling
  • Nicola Ring
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • Isabelle Uny
    University of Stirling
  • Edward A S Duncan
    University of Stirling
  • Ruth G Jepson
    Edinburgh Napier University
  • Margaret Maxwell
    University of Stirling
  • Rachel J Roberts
    University of Stirling
  • Ruth L Turley
    Cardiff University
  • Andrew Booth
    University of Sheffield
  • Nicky Britten
    University of Exeter Medical School
  • Kate Flemming
    University of York
  • Ian Gallagher
    eMERGe project
  • Ruth Garside
    University of Exeter Medical School
  • Karin Hannes
    University of Leuven
  • Simon Lewin
    South African Medical Research Council, Capetown
  • George W Noblit
    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Catherine Pope
    Southampton University
  • James Thomas
    EPPI-Centre, Institute of Education, University of London
  • Meredith Vanstone
    McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario
  • Gina M A Higginbottom
    University of Nottingham
  • Jane Noyes

AIMS: The aim of this study was to provide guidance to improve the completeness and clarity of meta-ethnography reporting.

BACKGROUND: Evidence-based policy and practice require robust evidence syntheses which can further understanding of people's experiences and associated social processes. Meta-ethnography is a rigorous seven-phase qualitative evidence synthesis methodology, developed by Noblit and Hare. Meta-ethnography is used widely in health research, but reporting is often poor quality and this discourages trust in and use of its findings. Meta-ethnography reporting guidance is needed to improve reporting quality.

DESIGN: The eMERGe study used a rigorous mixed-methods design and evidence-based methods to develop the novel reporting guidance and explanatory notes.

METHODS: The study, conducted from 2015 to 2017, comprised of: (1) a methodological systematic review of guidance for meta-ethnography conduct and reporting; (2) a review and audit of published meta-ethnographies to identify good practice principles; (3) international, multidisciplinary consensus-building processes to agree guidance content; (4) innovative development of the guidance and explanatory notes.

FINDINGS: Recommendations and good practice for all seven phases of meta-ethnography conduct and reporting were newly identified leading to 19 reporting criteria and accompanying detailed guidance.

CONCLUSION: The bespoke eMERGe Reporting Guidance, which incorporates new methodological developments and advances the methodology, can help researchers to report the important aspects of meta-ethnography. Use of the guidance should raise reporting quality. Better reporting could make assessments of confidence in the findings more robust and increase use of meta-ethnography outputs to improve practice, policy, and service user outcomes in health and other fields. This is the first tailored reporting guideline for meta-ethnography. This article is being simultaneously published in the following journals: Journal of Advanced Nursing, Psycho-oncology, Review of Education, and BMC Medical Research Methodology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-458
Number of pages12
Issue number3
Early online date15 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

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