Meta-Ethnography, Qualitative Research, Mental Illness Stigma, and Healthcare Practitioners: Lessons from the Order of the Golden Dozen

Meta-Ethnography, Qualitative Research, Mental Illness Stigma, and Healthcare Practitioners: Lessons from the Order of the Golden Dozen


The Mental Health and Psychological Well-Being SIG includes representatives of anthropology, healthcare administration, maternal healthcare, nursing, patient care social work, psychiatric mental health nursing, and psychology.  During a January teleconference, one participant observed the iterative dialogue was analogous to making a stew:  Hearty bits of substantive thought (meat) blended with savory illustrative examples (veggies) and simmered into a flavorful concoction far exceeding the sum of its parts.  The comment sparked this brief blog on working together to advance scholarship by studying qualitative approaches to mental illness stigma in healthcare practitioners.

How does food relate to meta-ethnography? Maurice C. Dreicer, a food and wine columnist, began his search for the perfect steak in 1945, visiting over 60 countries in a 40-year quest (New York Times, 1989). Dreicer contributed his report on contemporary dining, The Diner’s Companion, to the American Broadcasting Company's Time Capsule (eCrater n. d.) and established the Order of the Golden Dozen to honor the world’s greatest chefs (Los Angeles Times, 1955, p. 35).  I learned about the Order of the Golden Dozen when restauranteur Kenneth Hansen described the meaning of the ornate certificate gracing the foyer of his legendary Scandia Restaurant in Hollywood (Los Angeles Times, 1971). 

Emigrating from Copenhagen to the United States in 1920, Hansen worked as a busboy on a Danish steamer (Meares, 2017); during the next two decades, he served in myriad restaurant positions until he acquired Bit o’ Sweden in 1941, followed by Scandia in 1946 (Meares, 2017).  Hansen’s business partners were his sister-in-law, Teddy, and wife, Musse, who had supported the Danish resistance during World War II; Scandia was staffed by fellow Danish émigrés who had been trained in the art of old-world service (Meares, 2017).

For Dreicer, “dining is a fine art . . . to get the most for your time and money, you need to know how to plan and where to go” (eCrater, n.d.).  When describing great restaurants, renowned food critics Henri Gault and Christian Milau affirmed simplicity is “the secret of genius” (Los Angeles Times, 1971, p. 549). In Hansen’s words, food at Scandia was “not haute cuisine,” because it was “simpler, with less elaborate sauces” (Meares, 2017, para. 9).

So, what lessons may researchers learn from the Order of the Golden Dozen?

Order of the Golden Dozen

Lessons for Researchers

·       Know how to plan

·       Select optimal methodology/design

·       Know where to go

·       Narrow the focus

·       Simplicity is the secret of genius

·       Less is more

In this spirit, members of the Mental Health and Psychological Well-Being SIG are reviewing qualitative studies on stigma in their respective areas of interest, paying particular attention to context, setting, and theme interpretation.  We welcome comments on the feasibility of this approach for other research methodologies!


Dreicer, M. (1955). The diner’s companion. New York, NY:  Crown.

Dvan, L. (1971, November 14). Los Angeles Times, p. 549. Retrieved from

eCrater. (n.d.). Book description:  The diner’s companion.  Retrieved from

Los Angeles Times. (1955, August 5). Page 35.  Retrieved from

Meares, H. (2017, November 21). Scandia, a midcentury Sunset Strip restaurant, served meatballs and glamour in equal parts. LA Weekly.  Retrieved from

New York Times. (1989, August 30). Maurice C. Dreicer, 78; was radio entertainer.  Obituaries.  Retrieved from


Barbara Kennedy's picture Barbara Kennedy | January 23, 2018 8:49 am MST

Hi Louise, I love the way you tied in the stew metaphor!  I am not a food-y connossieur, but I do recognize the importance of simplicity in selecting quality ingredients, recipes and settings for an optimal meal.  In the case of our 'research dining experience,' I agree we would be wise to follow the ways of the Golden Dozen!

Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | January 23, 2018 4:42 pm MST

Hi Barb,

Thank you for sharing these views on "the importance of simplicity."  As Einstein said:  "The simple way is best."


Joann Kovacich's picture Joann Kovacich | January 24, 2018 11:32 am MST

As one of the participants in this research endeavor I am looking forward to the end result in which "the whole [will be] greater than the sum of its parts" (Aristotle).




Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | January 24, 2018 2:29 pm MST
Hi Joann,
Thank you for sharing my vision of the "end result."  Each day, I discover new University of Phoenix resources that clarify research processes.  As an example, "Dissertation Process" guidelines reaffirm the need to narrow the focus:  "If your topic is too broad, you will be overwhelmed with too much information and much of it will be irrelevant to your research" (University of Phoenix, 2018).   Food for thought . . .
University of Phoenix. (2018). Dissertation process:  Develop a search strategy.  SAS Central.  Retrieved from 
Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | January 24, 2018 12:17 pm MST

Nice job Louise!  And kudos to Margaret for the stew metaphor!  Best to all! 

Todd Hastings, PhD, RN

Thank you for your kind words, Todd!
Walker Ladd's picture Walker Ladd | January 28, 2018 8:22 am MST

Thank you, Louise! As a member and head chef, I struggle with the uncertainty of how it will evolve. I am comforted by the knowledge that qualitative research is inherently uncertain. Leading the group endeavor has challenged me in new ways and I am growing in my appreciation for the collaborative effort in research. 

When in doubt, I come back time and time again to the core of the method, meta-ethnography, and its beauty. The method itself is stunning in its interpretivism application to social science. It is also what challenges all of us! There is no hard, fast evidence, nor answer. It is our collective work that drives the interpretation of the selected qualitative studies. Quite a wild ride! Glad to be on this journey with all of you.

Louise Underdahl's picture Louise Underdahl | January 28, 2018 8:49 pm MST

Hi Walker,

I am comforted by the knowledge that qualitative research is inherently uncertain.
Thank you for these observations.  As Gummesson (2005) suggested in a conceptual paper on qualitative research in marketing, quantitative and qualitative approaches should not be antagonistic.  The interpretive strengths of qualitative study can improve the accuracy of marketing theory.  Both methodologies have much to offer the community of scholars.
Gummesson, E. (2005). Qualitative research in marketing: Road-map for a wilderness of complexity and unpredictability. European Journal of Marketing39(3/4), 309-327.

About the Author

Louise Underdahl



Journal of Leadership Studies-Symposium Piece-Relational Leadership: Perspectives of Key Constructs on Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Equity in Higher Education

Psychology Today
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American Psychological Association Conference-Utilizing Clinical Hypnotherapeutic Intervention with CBT to Treat Pandemic-Aug. 13-2021 Symptomology

ILA Conference Geneva Switzerland 2021
Presenter -Topic-"The Stress Arc in Leadership and 3 Powerful Disciplines for Mitigating Major Stress Impacts in a New Era"-Upcoming
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2021-Knowledge Without Boundaries National Summit-College of Doctoral Studies Research Conference-University of Phoenix-Panel Discussion-"Exploring Emergent Trends in Leadership and Education"-Based on published symposia article from the Journal of Leadership Studies-


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