Inarticulate Experiences in Qualitative Health Research: Bounds and Bounty of Expression Types

Paul Lindhout, Truus Teunissen, Merel Visse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Not all human experiences can be expressed in words. Arts-based expressions may be useful to qualitative researchers as they can disclose people’s experiences with health, illness and disability. These expressions, which connect with non-linguistic and unexplored realms of experience, may support researchers’ efforts to honor the complexities of their lives. In our study, we explored and identified modes of expression among those sharing their experiences in health care and wellbeing research and practice. We present an inventory of human expression types based on a hierarchical classification and a literature review. The expression types which involve modes of both verbal and non-verbal knowing, show a bounty of possible ways for researchers and others to extend their study designs beyond verbalized accounts. We contend that using non-verbal expression types can assist qualitative researchers in fostering the articulation of complex experiences. As drawing upon a variety of methods in the inventory of expression types comes with new methodological bounds, researchers need to explicate their paradigmatic point of departure. It is expected that researchers, other professionals, and the general public will increase their holistic understandings of a subject’s experience by being open to a variety of expression types during data collection, interpretation, and presentation.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Qualitative Methods
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • arts-based methods
  • creativity
  • expression type
  • health research
  • inventory
  • non-verbal
  • qualitative research
  • tacit knowledge

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