Utilization of participant observation (PO) is one of the most effective method in studying crowd behavior in response to a particular intervention or action. But despite of this fact, participant observation is a method that is not free of research biases which may happen when the researchers take sides when gathering the data (Drury & Stott, 2001). This partisan activity occurs when bias in access, in observation, or in analysis are exemplified by the researchers who are conducting PO, an event that will surely affect the quality of data that will be gathered.
A study that made use of PO is done by Witt and colleagues (2010). The aim of their study was to investigate and evaluate the effects of an individualized homeopathic treatment in patients with migraine in usual care. Participant observation was done by observing patients undergoing homeopathic treatment in primary care practices for 24 months through the usage of standardized questionnaires.
The first set of questionnaires was administered before the treatment and the rest of the other questionnaires were sent at 3, 12 & 24 months. Throughout the 2-yr period, physicians made a continuous record of the patients homeopathic treatment, use of any additional therapy, and other referrals. A total of 212 adults with an average age of 39. 4 +/- 10. 7 years were observed (Witt et al. , 2010). Sixty seven physicians were assigned to these subjects.
Consequently, it can be said that this study was able to reduce the occurrence of PO research bias by utilizing a large sample size of subjects along with a large number of observers. Furthermore, the researchers made use of observers, physicians, that were highly credible. Another factor in the reduction of bias is the fact that the observation was made through the administration of questionnaires, a direct and very logical way of investigating the current health status of the patients.
This study concluded that homeopathic treatment significantly reduced the occurrence of migraine among the patients observed. Reference Srury, J. & Stott. (2001). Bias as a research strategy in participant observation: the case of intergroup conflict. SAGE, 13(1), 47-67. Witt, C. M. , Ludtke, R. , & Willich, S. N. (2010). Homeopathic treatment of patients with migraine: a prospective observational study with a 2-year follow-up period. The Journal of Alternative Treatment and Complementary Medicine, 16(4), 347-355