Self-care while undertaking qualitative nursing research
Intended for healthcare professionals
Evidence and practice    

Self-care while undertaking qualitative nursing research

Kay Joanne McCallum Doctoral researcher, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England
Debra Jackson Professor, University of Technology Sydney, Ultimo, Australia
Helen Walthall Programme lead, nursing prof doc, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England
Helen Aveyard Principal lecturer – student experience, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, England

Why you should read this article:
  • To gain an insight into clinical research from the point of view of the researcher

  • To understand that carrying out nursing research can be emotionally traumatic

  • To learn strategies and tactics to improve self-care when undertaking sensitive research

Background Nursing research is usually carried out by registered nurses with some experience of practice. However, nurses may find that the role of the nurse researcher is very different from that of the practising clinical nurse and has its own challenges.

Aim To explore the differences between the two roles and offer some guidance to nurses carrying out qualitative research, particularly research into sensitive topics.

Discussion Nurses need to be aware of various issues that could affect their ability to carry out nursing research and be emotionally traumatic.

Conclusion There is a general need for greater awareness about the potential risks of carrying out qualitative research into sensitive topics.

Implications for practice Nurse researchers must consider self-care when planning a research project, assessing their role, personality, background, personal experiences and stress triggers, and ensuring peer and supervisory support, reflection and a healthy lifestyle.

Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1741

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and has been checked for plagiarism using automated software


Conflict of interest

None declared

McCallum K, Jackson D, Walthall et al (2020) Self-care while undertaking qualitative nursing research. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2020.e1741

Published online: 08 October 2020

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