Thursday, August 20, 2009

Balls, Paula. "Phenomenology in Nursing Research: Methodology, Interviewing and Transcribing." NURSING TIMES August 13, 2009.

An increasing number of nurse researchers have been drawn to phenomenology; possibly because, like nursing, it considers the whole person and values their experience. Nursing is concerned with understanding people, being perceptive and sympathising with them. It recognises the validity of individuals’ experiences and supports them in exercising control over their own health care (Oiler, 1982). Nurses are taught to respect individuals, listen to them and believe them. They can also relate to the methods used to obtain data. Nurses are taught to be good listeners, to empathise and to create rapport, often in a short period of time. All these are valuable skills in phenomenology and nurses may feel they are sufficient to allow them to conduct a good interview in this type of research. However, phenomenological research is not so straightforward and one must firstly decide which of two main approaches are to be used. These are: Descriptive phenomenology; Interpretative phenomenology. . . . Descriptive phenomenology, which is attributed to Husserl (1963; original work 1913), attempted to make phenomenology a rigorous science within the tradition of its time, and used the concept of bracketing to maintain objectivity. Bracketing involves putting aside what the researcher already knows about the experience being investigated and approaching the data with no preconceptions about the phenomenon (Dowling, 2004; Lopez and Willis, 2004). Subsequently, phenomenologists such as Heidegger (1962) modified and built on Husserl’s theories and developed the interpretative tradition (also known as the hermeneutic tradition). Principally, interpretative phenomenologists believe it is impossible to rid the mind of preconceptions and approach something in a completely blank or neutral way. They believe instead that we use our own experiences to interpret those of others. . . . For nurses conducting research using descriptive phenomenology, one would expect to see some discussion around how they bracket their preconceptions and ensure a neutral approach to the topic. This may even mean not conducting a literature search before carrying out the research to avoid contaminating or influencing the interviews. On the other hand, those conducting interpretative phenomenological research will need to show how their own experiences have shaped the choice of research topic, the questions and their interpretations. They may even write down in an appendix to the work what they expect to uncover. In short, nurses should make sure they read around the different types of phenomenology and use language consistent with the approach chosen. They should not refer to bracketing if using interpretative phenomenology and should not explain how they stand within a hermeneutic circle if using descriptive phenomenology. Read the rest here:

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