An exemplar of naturalistic inquiry in general practice research
Evidence & Practice Previous    

An exemplar of naturalistic inquiry in general practice research

Susan McInnes PhD candidate/casual tutor, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Kath Peters Director of academic programme (international programmes), University of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Andrew Bonney Roberta Williams chair of general practice, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia
Elizabeth Halcomb Professor of primary healthcare nursing, University of Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Background Before beginning any research project, novice researchers must consider which methodological approach will best address their research questions. The paucity of literature describing a practical application of naturalistic inquiry adds to the difficulty they may experience.

Aim To provide a practical example of how naturalistic inquiry was applied to a qualitative study exploring collaboration between registered nurses and general practitioners working in Australian general practice.

Discussion Naturalistic inquiry is not without its critics and limitations. However, by applying the axioms and operational characteristics of naturalistic inquiry, the authors captured a detailed ‘snapshot’ of collaboration in general practice in the time and context that it occurred.

Conclusion Using qualitative methods, naturalistic inquiry provides the scope to construct a comprehensive and contextual understanding of a phenomenon. No individual positivist paradigm could provide the level of detail achieved in a naturalistic inquiry.

Implications for practice This paper presents a practical example of naturalistic inquiry for the novice researcher. It shows that naturalistic inquiry is appropriate when the researcher seeks a rich and contextual understanding of a phenomenon as it exists in its natural setting.

Nurse Researcher. 24, 3, 36-41. doi: 10.7748/nr.2017.e1509


Peer review

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

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 07 July 2016

Accepted: 15 September 2016

Want to read more?

Already subscribed? Log in


Unlock full access to RCNi Plus today

Save over 50% on your first 3 months

Your subscription package includes:
  • Unlimited online access to all 10 RCNi Journals and their archives
  • Customisable dashboard featuring 200+ topics
  • RCNi Learning featuring 180+ RCN accredited learning modules
  • RCNi Portfolio to build evidence for revalidation
  • Personalised newsletters tailored to your interests
RCN student member? Try Nursing Standard Student

Alternatively, you can purchase access to this article for the next seven days. Buy now