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BACKGROUND: Ethnographic research methods have a considerable history of use in medical settings. This paper provides a personal account of conducting ethnography in medical environments and focuses on some of the practical and ethical issues encountered in such settings. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The paper describes particular issues that arise when undertaking ethnographic work, such as gaining access, recording data, research roles and researching elite groups, and recounts some of the dilemmas posed by doing this type of research in a medical setting. The paper concludes by reflecting on what ethnography might offer to medicine in return for the rich data medicine provides. © Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005.

Original publication




Journal article


Medical Education

Publication Date





1180 - 1187