Issues using the life history calendar in disability research

Tiffany N. Scott Ricks, M.S.N., R.N., Tracie Harrison, Ph.D., R.N., F.N.P.

Disability and Health Journal
Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages 262–270, October 2011




Overall, there is a dearth of research reporting mixed-method data collection procedures using the life history calendar (LHC) within disability research.


This report provides practical knowledge on use of the LHC from the perspective of a mixed-method life history study of mobility impairment situated within a qualitative paradigm.


The authors reviewed the method-related literature referring to the LHC along with its epistemologic underpinnings. Further, the uses of the LHC in disability research were illustrated using preliminary data from reports of disablement in Mexican American and non-Hispanic white women with permanent mobility impairment.


From our perspective, the LHC was most useful as approached from an interpretive paradigm when gathering data from women of varied ethnic and socioeconomic strata. While we found the LHC the most useful tool currently available for studying disablement over the life course, there were challenges associated with its use. The LHC required extensive interviewer training. In addition, large segments of time were needed for completion depending on the type of participant responses.


Researchers planning to conduct a disability study may find our experience using the LHC valuable for anticipating issues that may arise when the LHC is used in mixed-method research.