Interpretative phenomenological analysis: a discussion and critique
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Interpretative phenomenological analysis: a discussion and critique

Jan Pringle PhD student and part-time lecturer, University of Dundee
John Drummond Senior lecturer, University of Dundee
Ella McLafferty Senior lecturer, University of Dundee
Charles Hendry Senior lecturer (retired), University of Dundee

Aim The aim of this article is to examine the approach of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) and to add to discussions regarding the contribution that the approach can make to healthcare research.

Background Interpretative phenomenological analysis is an approach to qualitative, experiential research that has been gaining in momentum and popularity over the past 10-15 years. The approach has its roots in psychology and recognises the central role of the analyst in understanding the experiences of participants. IPA involves a two-stage interpretation process whereby the researcher attempts to interpret how the participants make sense of their experience.

Data sources Interpretative phenomenological analysis is discussed and critiqued in relation to other phenomenological approaches; benefits, potential limitations and rigour of studies using the method are explored.

Review methods This is a methodology discussion that compares and contrasts IPA with other phenomenological approaches.

Conclusion Interpretative phenomenological analysis offers an adaptable and accessible approach to phenomenological research intended to give a complete and in-depth account that privileges the individual. It enables nurses to reach, hear and understand the experiences of participants. Findings from IPA studies can influence and contribute to theory.

Implications for research and practice Achieving a greater understanding of experiences in health care and illness can improve service provision. It is only by understanding meanings that nurses can influence health behaviour and lifestyles.

Nurse Researcher. 18, 3, 20-24. doi: 10.7748/nr2011.

Peer review

This article has been subject to double blind peer review

Accepted: 01 December 2010

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