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J Adv Nurs. 2001 Feb;33(3):350-6.

Exploring caring using narrative methodology: an analysis of the approach.

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Research & Development Office for the HPSS, Belfast, UK.


The investigation of caring in nursing practice and the need to explicate what it is nurses do when they care present a challenge for nurse researchers. This is due largely to the complex and nebulous nature of caring as a concept and the contextual elements that influence its perceived meaning. Consequently, the use of qualitative methods in the exploration of caring is the method of choice, with researchers employing a variety of such approaches. In particular, the use of stories as a primary way of making sense of an experience has gained attention in the literature and the narrative method is being seen increasingly as a valid means of tapping into the patient experience. However, the use of narratives is complex with a diversity of approaches often being presented. This paper discusses the use of narratives in the exploration of caring, focusing specifically on an approach developed by Donald Polkinghorne. Issues associated with the collection and analysis of narrative data using this approach are examined.

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