Also, don’t rush! Allow participants to gather their thoughts as needed and avoid trying to get information from them with all the moderation tricks you know. The affect will only be counterproductive and in the end, you might not get any valuable information at all. In my experience, participants who found it difficult to talk about their disease at the beginning of the interview became more open towards the end. After spending an hour with me in a room, participants appeared to be less tense and more comfortable in my presence. So, if you have the feeling that they are not ready to talk with you in detail about their mental and/or physical state, try asking again at the end of the interview.
It could also be helpful for special patient groups if they are allowed to bring their caregiver with them. Caregivers are a people they trust who will provide support and comfort.
Be a great listener
We need to listen much more than we talk during the interview. Listen not only to the spoken words but also to participants' body language. It is an essential and important part of every interview (not only with patients). However, I think that we need to pay even closer attention to our counterpart when conducting interviews with patients. Their body language and behavior can give us clues about what they are actually feeling and thinking when talking about a special topic or give us clues regarding things they don’t want to talk about, e.g., severity of pain. Also, be aware of your own body language and facial expressions. Give comforting smiles, show interest in what participants tell you, sit squarely, have an open posture, lean forward, make eye contact and relax.
It is essential that you make yourself familiar with the disease and its symptoms and specifications beforehand. Are there any special needs? What possible situations can occur during the interview?
Conducting research on patients without reviewing literature beforehand is not only unprofessional but often considered unethical. You need to know about the different effects a disease can have on a person in order to act accordingly and prepare your session guides, questionnaires, etc.
Knowledge about their special needs can also contribute to their comfort and can minimize risks for patients. For example, think about their special needs when selecting the test location, e.g., do they sit in a wheelchair? Try to find a location that is barrier-free. Do they have a walking aid? Make sure no cables from cameras are lying around in the interview room.