An overview of interpretive phenomenology as a research methodology
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An overview of interpretive phenomenology as a research methodology

Dympna Tuohy Lecturer, University of Limerick, Ireland
Adeline Cooney Senior lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway
Maura Dowling Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway
Kathy Murphy Professor of nursing, National University of Ireland, Galway
Jane Sixsmith Lecturer, National University of Ireland, Galway

Aim To provide an overview of interpretive phenomenology.

Background Phenomenology is a philosophy and a research approach. As a research approach, it is used extensively in nursing and ‘interpretive’ phenomenology is becoming increasingly popular.

Data sources Online and manual searches of relevant books and electronic databases were undertaken.

Review methods Literature review on papers on phenomenology, research and nursing (written in English) was undertaken.

Discussion A brief outline of the origins of the concept, and the influence of ‘descriptive’ phenomenology on the development of interpretive phenomenology is provided. Its aim, origins and philosophical basis, including the core concepts of dasein, fore-structure/pre-understanding, world view existential themes and the hermeneutic circle, are described and the influence of these concepts in phenomenological nursing research is illustrated.

Conclusion This paper will assist readers when deciding whether interpretive phenomenology is appropriate for their research projects.

Implications for research/practice This paper adds to the discussion on interpretive phenomenology and helps inform readers of its use as a research methodology.

Nurse Researcher. 20, 6, 17-20. doi: 10.7748/nr2013.

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 17 February 2012

Accepted: 08 October 2012

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