Hans Thulesius, GP, Ph.D.

After having read Antoinette McCallin’s paper on
literature use in GT I find myself asking the following
question. Is McCallin’s way of applying the literature letting
the research area emerge in a literature search an
important modification on how to use the literature in
classic GT according to Glaser? McCallin shows how her
way to a one core variable grounded theory went over a
literature review in the beginning of her research. But this
literature review was actually a general literature search for
a problem area to explore since McCallin tells us that she
did not have a finite area of research before screening the
literature. Eventually, through a literature search she
decided that she wanted to study interprofessional practice
in health care. After having found this problem area
McCallin did what is not recommended in classic GT – she
began studying the scientific literature on interprofessional
practice. However, the area was almost unexplored.

In my opinion McCallin did not start her GT until she
found the specific research area she wanted to explore. But
this area was not found through a specific scientific
literature search but by generally exploring what was going
on in the health care scene in her part of the world.
Then she could have been preconceived by too early
reading the scientific literature, but the area was
scientifically a virgin land to her luck.

Fortunately, the literature revealed that there was
little published research on the concept of
interprofessional practice (Bishop & Scudder, 1985;
Casto & Julia, 1994; Gabe, Kelleher & Williams,
1994; Leathard, 1994; Ovretveit, 1993; Petersen,
1994; Soothill, Mackay, & Webb, 1995). Most
readings proved to be anecdotal accounts of
interprofessional teamwork. (McCallin, 2003, p.66)

McCallin then generated a useful grounded theory
explaining how health care professionals through pluralistic
dialogue overcome difficulties in working together.

So the answer to the above question is no. McCallin
just did what Glaser suggests, reading a lot, but not in the
area of study. Her general literature search increased her
theoretical sensitivity in discovering a relevant research
area. As she tells us: “Perhaps long-term study within the
discipline of nursing had de-sensitised me to the wider
issues common to all health professionals working in the
health reform environment?” (McCallin, 2003, p.65)

So the recommended use of literature in Grounded
Theory research according to Glaser fits with how McCallin
used it in her Pluralistic Dialogue study. What may be
somewhat new is that McCallin actually found her problem
area in the general literature.


Hans Thulesius, GP, Ph.D.
Kronoberg County Research Centre
Department of Community Medicine
Vaxjo, SE