Immersive research is a qualitative approach wherein researchers live with people in their own homes for 3-5 days and gain insights through informal conversations, first-hand observations and experiences. This approach can be used to raise an agenda for action, investigation and research, providing nuanced insights with implications for policy, practice and research.
Researchers live with families in communities and learn open-endedly from lived experience, observation and conversations with people as they go about their daily lives. There are no questionnaires or interview schedules. They participate in household tasks, wander around and observe, have unplanned conversations, are open to surprises and follow up flexibly on whatever is new and relevant.
Importantly this approach allows for meeting and discussions with those often missing in research, for example, elderly people, young children, people with disabilities, marginalised, women, and migrants.
While the sample of such a study may be small and does not permit generalisations, it helps in providing nuanced insights and uncovering possible issues or problems, which may be difficult to capture through large scale surveys and other conventional research methods. The approach may require combining with other tools and processes to triangulate and validate on a larger scale.
Immersive approaches and other participatory methods will be vital to ensure we leave no one behind in the drive to achieve SDG 6.2 and sanitation and hygiene for all.