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Physiother Theory Pract. 2011 May;27(4):263-77. doi: 10.3109/09593985.2010.488278. Epub 2010 Aug 26.

Using interpretative phenomenological analysis to inform physiotherapy practice: an introduction with reference to the lived experience of cerebellar ataxia.

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Centre for Research in Rehabilitation, School of Health Sciences and Social Care, Brunel University, West London, Uxbridge, United Kingdom.


Qualitative research methods that focus on the lived experience of people with health conditions are relatively underutilised in physiotherapy research. This article aims to introduce interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), a research methodology oriented toward exploring and understanding the experience of a particular phenomenon (e.g., living with spinal cord injury or chronic pain, or being the carer of someone with a particular health condition). Researchers using IPA try to find out how people make sense of their experiences and the meanings they attach to them. The findings from IPA research are highly nuanced and offer a fine grained understanding that can be used to contextualise existing quantitative research, to inform understanding of novel or underresearched topics or, in their own right, to provoke a reappraisal of what is considered known about a specified phenomenon. We advocate IPA as a useful and accessible approach to qualitative research that can be used in the clinical setting to inform physiotherapy practice and the development of services from the perspective of individuals with particular health conditions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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