Behavioral observation is a fundamental component of nursing practice and a primary source of clinical research data. The use of video technology in behavioral research offers important advantages to nurse scientists in assessing complex behaviors and relationships between behaviors. The appeal of using this method should be balanced, however, by an informed approach to reliability issues. In this article, we focus on factors that influence reliability, such as the use of sensitizing sessions to minimize participant reactivity and the importance of training protocols for video coders. In addition, we discuss data quality, the selection and use of observational tools, calculating reliability coefficients, and coding considerations for special populations based on our collective experiences across three different populations and settings.
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