• To gain insight into how ecomaps can be used effectively in research interviews
• To appreciate the dynamic nature of ecomaps
• To understand how using ecomaps in research interviews is congruent with the philosophical foundations of hermeneutic phenomenology
Background Ecomaps are tools used in nursing practice to assess families’ social support systems. Ecomaps have been used effectively in qualitative research but little attention has been given to their use as a tool in the methodological approach of hermeneutic phenomenology.
Aim To demonstrate that the use of ecomaps is congruent with the Heideggerian philosophical foundations of hermeneutic phenomenology.
Discussion This article reflects on a study in which the researchers used ecomaps to explore how parents of children with cancer are supported with decision-making about their children’s care. Exploration of the Heideggerian concepts of ‘being in the world’, ‘being with’ and ‘temporality’ prompted reflections about how constructing ecomaps furthers understanding of participants’ unique contexts. Using an ecomap in an in-depth interview enabled interviewees to return to their experiences of being supported with decision-making; it also further developed the researcher’s understanding of how each participant’s experience was situated in their evolving relationships with others.
Conclusion Constructing ecomaps in hermeneutic phenomenology is in tune with Heideggerian philosophical concepts. Ecomaps can open a door to participants’ experiences, deepen the researcher’s understanding and find further meaning in those experiences.
Implications for practice Ecomaps are a useful way of shining a light on participants’ experiences in hermeneutic phenomenological research. The article provides practical tips to optimise their use in future research.
Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2023.e1890Peer review
This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated softwareCorrespondence
Jestico ECL, Taylor B, Finlay TMD et al (2023) The ecomap: a tool for extending understanding in hermeneutic phenomenological research. Nurse Researcher. doi: 10.7748/nr.2023.e1890
Published online: 10 August 2023
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