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Table 2 ‘Thick description’ of an intervention and its social context

From: Ethnographic methods for process evaluations of complex health behaviour interventions

Nelson et al.’s [42] ethnographic study of a intervention to promote communication between parents and their adolescent children about sex and sexual health in Latin America describes how an intervention was premised on the notion of ‘open communication’ being a ‘good thing’ but was often interpreted by participants as confianza (trust), which may or may not include open forms of communication. It also describes the various ways in which language was used between adolescents and parents, for example by parents to exert power over their children’s sexual activity, or by adolescents to resist this; and how community members expressed social norms about what was acceptable sexual behaviour for men and women, which could lead to contradictory statements being made to young people (because mothers and fathers would make different types of statements, for example). The interpretation of the intervention and the different functional uses of language (besides just ‘communication’) were analysed in terms of their embeddedness in social and cultural norms, as was the international development intervention itself and its intention to change communication behaviours.